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By Karina Villarreal
The controversy over alleged embezzlement at PDVSA, the Venezuelan state oil company, continues to escalate, in a plot in which until now there was supposed to be a $3 billion hole in the balance of oil sales. The $3 billion was marked as “accounts receivable” from intermediaries that acquired Venezuelan hydrocarbons.
However, while this is a significant figure, it may have fallen significantly short of the actual situation, according to an exclusive released by Reuters, which indicates that receivables amount to at least $21.2 billion. This number is seven times the amount first believed.
“The internal disclosure of the huge amount of unpaid sales – around 84 % of the total value of PDVSA’s invoiced shipments – reveals for the first time the depth of revenue losses due to the withdrawal of established buyers from oil companies since 2020,” noted Reuters in a hard-hitting report – based on documents provided in an audit – showing the magnitude of the embezzlement at the national oil company.
The agency noted, “The scale of the accounts receivable explains the January freeze on supply contracts by new PDVSA chief Pedro Tellechea, who sought to halt unpaid cargoes immediately after taking office. A series of attempts to tighten contract terms came after some ships absconded without paying in recent years.”
Accounts Receivable of Pdvsa
According to the Reuters report, documents provided to the office of Venezuela’s attorney general, Tarek William Saab, reflect that out of a total of $25.27 billion in oil exports between January 2020 and this month, PDVSA was only able to confirm receipt of $4.08 billion in payments, excluding some swaps such as the one with Cuba.
“Which means it has only managed to collect 16% of exports,” the agency said.
“3.6 billion potentially unrecoverable”
And he explained that the $21.2 billion in uncollected trade receivables included about $3.6 billion in invoices that he called “potentially unrecoverable.”
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“And they are linked to tankers that left Venezuela without paying even a portion of the value of the cargoes upfront, even though the customers had agreed to those terms, according to the documents,” the agency noted.
And he added that the receivables also include an outstanding balance due from Iran for receiving cargo from Venezuela since 2020 as part of an oil swap between the two countries.
“Some clients have fought the count of failed payments from PDVSA by providing supporting documents that had not been registered in the state-owned company’s contract management system, a company source said,” Reuters reported.