Colombia: Judge Issues Extradition Order for American Oil Executive
A Colombian judge requested on Friday the extradition of an American oil executive who is a suspect in one of the biggest corruption scandals in Colombia. Local media say he and his associates spent nearly US$16 million of embezzled money on prostitutes.
Masoud Deidehban is accused of embezzling two billion dollars meant for the modernization of an Ecopetrol refinery, a state-run oil company, based in the northern coastal city of Cartagena.
Deidehban is the former project manager of Chicago Bridge and Iron (CB&I). He and former CB&I CEO Philip K. Asherman were first accused of embezzling funds in 2017, according to ICIS, a petrochemical marketing information service.
Aside from ordering prostitutes under the guise of “business expenses,” the duo created 2,460 subcontracts that cost double the original budget because they inflated costs and charged for non-existent project hours.
The project ended up costing $8 billion in 2016, three times as much as was originally estimated in 2013, according to Colombia Reports. Ecopetrol executives allegedly received kickbacks from the scheme and project delays increased costs.
On Twitter, the Colombian Prosecutor’s Office called for Interpol to issue a red notice for Deidheban. A red notice would grant law enforcement across the world access to information about Deidheban and set the terms leading to an arrest.
Asherman is already in Colombia awaiting trial. In the same tweet, the prosecution said he was moved from house arrest to jail by the judge’s orders.
CB&I said in 2017 that the charges were uncalled for. Since then, CB&I has become part of Texas-based oil company McDermott International.
It’s unclear if Deidheban is based out of the United States at this time.
Similarly, the US extradited the former Colombian Minister of Agriculture on Friday to stand trial for corruption, according to Colombia Reports. It’s unknown if Colombia will cite this past action as leverage to retrieve Deidheban for trial.