A former finance executive of Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA accepted $17 million in bribes as part of a broad embezzlement scheme, U.S. federal prosecutors said on Wednesday, in a case that implicates a French oil firm and a Russian bank. The former executive, Abraham Ortega, admitted to taking the bribes as part of a guilty plea to one count of attempting to launder $12 million of the illegal payments, the U.S. Attorneys’ Office for the Southern District of Florida said in a statement. The case comes amid growing U.S. investigations into the troubled OPEC nation’s public officials, and may lead to new revelations about the role of foreign firms in graft probes that until now have mainly focused on Venezuelan nationals. “Ortega admitted that he and his co-defendant laundered $12 million through a sophisticated false-investment scheme,” reads the statement, which describes a “billion-dollar international scheme […]