US charges Venezuelan tycoon tied to government for bribery

BOGOTA, Colombia — U.S. prosecutors unsealed an indictment against a Venezuelan media tycoon close to President Nicolas Maduro’s socialist government on Monday, accusing him of paying $159 million in bribes to top officials in exchange for lucrative foreign currency deals and then hiding the proceeds in luxury Manhattan and Florida real estate.

It was unclear why the three-month old charges against Raul Gorrin for money laundering and foreign corruption were unsealed Monday. A separate court document said he was now considered a fugitive.

Gorrin helped purchase Globovision in 2013 and softened anti-government coverage after becoming president of the popular TV network.

Prosecutors in Miami said in the August indictment that beginning around 2010, Gorrin paid bribes to two finance officials in exchange for the right to conduct foreign currency transactions for the government.

He also allegedly paid on the officials’ behalf expenses related to three jets and the veterinary services for multiple champion horses,

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