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. 

Oil Refinery (Source: Pixabay)Oil Refinery (Source: Pixabay)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 accused in 2017 of embezzling funds, according to ICIS, a petrochemical marketing information service. 

Prosecutors said that prostitutes were ordered under the guise of “business expenses,” and that 2,460 subcontracts were created that cost double the original budget due to inflated costs and charges 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.

CB&I said back then that the charges were uncalled for and the accusations were "erroneous." Since then, CB&I has become part of Texas-based oil company McDermott International.

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.

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.

Correction, Nov. 24: An incorrect statement made in this story about Philip K. Asherman has been removed.