“Rice Power! Agricultural power!” Chavez tweeted at the time.
Nine years later, locals are hungry. Few jobs have materialized and the plant is only half-built, running at less than 1 percent of its projected output. It hasn’t yielded a single grain of locally grown rice, according to a dozen people involved in or familiar with the development.
Yet CAMC and a select few Venezuelan partners prospered.
Venezuela paid CAMC at least $100 million for the stalled development, according to project contracts and sealed court documents from an investigation by prosecutors in Europe.
The thousands of pages of court papers, reviewed by Reuters, were filed in Andorra, the European principality where prosecutors allege Venezuelans involved in the project sought to launder kickbacks paid to them for helping secure the contract. The material on the China deal, reported here for the first time, includes confidential testimony, wiretap transcripts, bank records
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