State Dept. sets $10M reward for information on Colombian national linked to bribery scheme

State Dept. sets $10M reward for information on Colombian national linked to bribery scheme
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The U.S. State Department announced a $10 million reward on Friday for any information that would lead to the arrest of a Colombian national that the United States has accused of participating in a Venezuela bribery scheme. 

The reward for Colombian businessman Alvaro Pulido Vargas was announced a day after the Department of Justice accused Vargas and four others of inflating the costs of government contracts involving a state-run food and medicine program in Venezuela in order to make a profit and bribe Venezuelan officials. 

“Beginning in 2015, Pulido and others began working to obtain or retain contracts to provide food to the Venezuelan people. Pulido and his co-conspirators allegedly marked-up the cost of producing the boxes of food in order to make a personal profit from their production,” the State Department said in the announcement of its reward on Friday.

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All five men, three Colombians and two Venezuelans, were charged with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and four counts of money laundering on Thursday.

Pulido has allegedly worked with fellow Colombian businessman Alex Saab, an envoy of Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro, according to Reuters.

Saab was extradited to the U.S. last week on money laundering charges, in a move condemned by Venezuela saying the extradition was “kidnapping.”

In retaliation, Venezuela pulled out of talks with U.S. backed opposition in Mexico and took six American oil executives in Venezuela off of house arrest. The government sent the Americans to the country’s intelligence police headquarters. 

The State Department's announcement came from the Department of State’s Transnational Organized Crime Rewards Program. 

The program has helped bring more than 75 transnational criminals and major narcotics traffickers to justice with more than $135 million in rewards given out so far.