Tanker broker detained in Greece over $21bn oil fraud claim

Greek police have detained an Italian citizen after Venezuela sought his extradition for allegedly defrauding the country’s regime out of oil revenue worth billions of dollars.

Authorities did not identify the man, but the description of the case matches Venezuelan reports naming Erik Roveta, an Italian oil tanker broker said to be facing money laundering charges in the South American country.

Reported statements by a lawyer representing the man in Athens suggest Roveta is the accused.

Greek newspaper To Proto Thema quoted lawyer Ioannis Marakakis as saying: “We are friends with Erik … he was tried [over the same case] in Dubai but was acquitted because it transpired he was simply managing the charter revenue.”

Marakakis did not respond to an email requesting comment.

The Venezuelan charges involve the alleged use of transponder devices taken from laid-up ships in Asia to use on vessels carrying Venezuelan oil.

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Prosecutors in Caracas claim that following their departure from Venezuela, the ships’ transponders were switched off and their cargo was seized and sold on the perpetrators’ own account.

The alleged revenue loss from these operations for the Venezuelan government is said to have exceeded $21bn.

The extradition request comes as part of Venezuelan authorities’ investigation into corruption within the state oil firm Petroleos de Venezuela.

Reports link another Italian businessman to the same case — Alessandro Bazzoni, whom the US blacklisted in 2021 for “facilitating the illegitimate [Venezuelan President Nicolas] Maduro regime’s attempts to circumvent US sanctions”.

Roveta is based in Athens. He briefly worked for Ifchor Tankers out of Genoa, between 2010 and 2012. His LinkedIn page shows him as an employee at Athens-based brokerage firm Albatross Maritime.

In November, a company under that name filed a request with Greece’s shipping ministry to be de-registered. The request was granted the following month.

Managers at Albatross Maritime were not available by phone and did not respond to an email requesting comment.

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