Former US ambassador to Venezuela files bribe suit

NEW YORK (AP) — A former U.S. ambassador to Venezuela is suing three businessmen in New York, saying they secured lucrative construction contracts with the South American country using kickbacks to public officials.

Otto Reich also alleges the defendants defamed him and he lost consulting business after they lied to two of his prospective clients.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Manhattan on Tuesday.

The suit alleges that Leopoldo Alejandro Betancourt Lopez, Pedro Jose Trebbau Lopez and Francisco D'Agostino Casado secured contracts on behalf of Derwick Associates to build numerous power plants by paying kickbacks to public officials in Venezuela between 2009 and 2012. The alleged recipients include the president of the state-run oil company.

Lawyers for Betancourt and Trebbau call the lawsuit meritless. They say D'Agostino was not a Derwick employee.

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