March 23, 2016 / 3:14 PM / a year ago

Ex-officials at Venezuela's PDVSA pleaded guilty in bribe case: U.S.

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The PDVSA logo is seen on a tank at its refinery El Palito in Puerto Cabello, in the state of Carabobo, March 2, 2016.Marco Bello

(Reuters) - Three former officials at Venezuela's state oil company have pleaded guilty to U.S. charges related to a scheme by two businessmen to corruptly secure energy contracts, the U.S. Justice Department said on Wednesday.

The three former officials at Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA) [PDVSA.UL] pleaded guilty under seal in December to conspiracy to commit money laundering. Their pleas were unsealed by a federal judge in Houston on Tuesday.

The ex-PDVSA officials are Jose Luis Ramos Castillo, 38; Christian Javier Maldonado Barillas, 39; and Alfonzo Eliezer Gravina Munoz, 53.

Their case relates to charges against two Venezuelan businessmen, Roberto Rincon and Abraham Jose Shiera Bastidas, who were charged in December with violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Shiera pleaded guilty on Tuesday.

Reporting by Nate Raymond in New York; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama

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