Energy company owner pleads guilty in Venezuela bribery case

HOUSTON – The owner of several U.S. energy companies has pleaded guilty to bribery and tax charges in what federal authorities say was a scheme to secure millions of dollars in contracts from Venezuela’s state-owned energy company.

Roberto Enrique Rincon Fernandez entered his plea Thursday in Houston. U.S. District Judge Gray Miller set his sentencing for Sept. 30.

The 55-year-old Rincon is the sixth person to plead guilty to charges related to the bribery scheme in which officials responsible for procurement at Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, known as PDVSA, were wined and dined and treated to expensive hotel stays.

All six have agreed to forfeit proceeds from their criminal activity.

Rincon was arrested in December at his suburban Houston home after he was named in an 18-count indictment.