Miami — The US has arrested two people in a ring of former officials and business people who laundered $1.2bn in funds from Venezuela’s state oil firm, authorities said on Wednesday. With Venezuelans living with grave shortages of food and services, oil firm PDVSA — the country’s cash-cow — was widely used for the financial gain of regime defiers. "The alleged conspirators include former PDVSA officials, professional third-party money launderers, and members of the Venezuelan elite," a federal indictment in Florida’s second district said. The suspects’ conspiracy allegedly began in December 2014 with a currency exchange scheme designed to embezzle about $600m from PDVSA, through bribery and fraud, that also saw them launder some proceeds. They maximised profits by taking advantage of access to the favourable rates of the Venezuelan government’s foreign currency exchange system, converting bolivars to dollars. By May 2015, the conspiracy had allegedly doubled in value. Matthias Krull...

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