Hugo Chavez

Houston firm sues ex Venezuelan oil czar Ramirez over bribes

Venezuela's former oil czar Rafael Ramirez was sued Friday by a Houston company that alleges he was behind demands for at least $10 million in bribes to sign off on deals to sell its energy assets in the South American country.

The civil complaint filed in Houston came just four days after a U.S. official told The Associated Press that Ramirez is suspected by prosecutors of having received bribes in connection to a major graft scheme at Venezuela's state-run oil company, PDVSA.

In the new lawsuit, Harvest Natural Resources alleges that starting in 2012 it refused a $10 million bribe demand from a Florida-based oil consultant who said he was acting in the name of Ramirez,...