Former Miami Republican congressman David Rivera was reportedly arrested on Monday in connection with an ongoing criminal investigation into his ties with Venezeula.
Rivera, a once-powerful figure in South Florida politics, and his former Miami-Dade political consultant, Esther Nuhfer, have been charged with money laundering, conspiracy to commit crimes against the United States, and failing to register as a foreign agent as part of his consulting work for Venezuela’s oil subsidiary, PDV USA.
Rivera, who was elected for a single term from 2011 to 2013, is purportedly being investigated after accepting a $50 million consultancy contract with a U.S. arm of Venezuela’s socialist government-run oil corporation under President Nicolas Maduro.
Rivera was detained Monday at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, according to Marlene Rodriguez, a spokesman for the United States Attorney’s Office in Miami.
However, due to a sealed indictment issued by a Miami grand jury last month, Rodriguez was unable to directly address the accusations against Rivera.
Rivera, 57, appeared in federal court in Atlanta following his detention but was released later that afternoon on bail, according to the U.S. Marshals Service, as reported by local media.
PDV USA, a Delaware-based affiliate of Venezuelan-owned oil company Citgo, sued Rivera’s Interamerican Consulting firm in 2020 on allegations the former congressman failed to keep his end of the contract he signed three years before the lawsuit, which was reportedly intended to improve the Venezuelan firm’s image in the United States.
The company accused Rivera of performing little actual work after receiving $20 million via a subsidiary.
In addition, the indictment also formally claims that Rivera was directly lobbying for the Venezuelan government in an attempt to normalize the relationship between the communist country and the United States, a charge Rivera had previously denied in the past.