A former Miami congressman who signed a $50 million consulting contract with Venezuela’s socialist government was arrested Monday on charges of money laundering and representing a foreign government without registering.
David Rivera, a Republican who served from 2011 to 2013, was arrested at Atlanta’s airport, said Marlene Rodriguez, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami. The eight-count indictment alleges he was part of a conspiracy to lobby on behalf of Venezuela to improve U.S.-Venezuela relations, resolve an oil company legal dispute and end U.S. economic sanctions against the South American nation — without registering as a foreign agent.
The indictment cites meetings in Washington, New York and elsewhere that Rivera is described as setting up with senators, congressmen and White House officials, none of whom are named.
In July 2017, for example, the indictment alleges Rivera wrote in text messages to an unnamed U.S. senator, “Remember, US should facilitate, not just support, a negotiated solution,” and, “No vengeance, reconciliation.”
Pressure has been building on Rivera for more than two years after it emerged that he received the massive contract from a U.S. affiliate of Venezuela’s state-owned oil company as President Nicolas Maduro was trying to curry favor with the White House in the early days of the Trump administration.
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