Irony- (especially in contemporary writing) a manner of organizing work so as to give full expression to contradictory or complementary impulses, attitudes, etc., especially as a means of indicating detachment from a subject, theme, or emotion.

This definition sprung to mind when reports surfaced that Venezuela’s inspector general’s office recently recommended the country’s “Public Prosecutor’s Office investigate and charge five current and former executives at Petróleos de Venezuela SA, (PDVSA), for allegedly embezzling public funds by paying inflated fees for the lease of an oil rig.” Why is this ironic? It is because PDVSA is notoriously corrupt, perhaps the most corruption national energy company in the world, which is really saying something. It was so corrupt that middle level managers were reported to demand Rolex watches to schedule meetings. Talk about tone in the middle!

This investigation deals with two drilling rigs PDVSA rented from Petro-Saudi to the tune of $1.3 billion in 2010. The amount was based upon a daily drilling rate of $485,000 per day which more than double the amount for other similar leases. Venezuelan officials suspect that the PDVSA officials under investigation pocketed some or all the difference in price in the form of an illegal bribe to steer the PDVSA contracts to Petro-Saudi. Venezuelan officials are not investigating Petro-Saudi for the payment of bribes, only PDVSA officials for receiving illegal payments.

The entire affair would seem to be better suited as subject of a slapstick movie about the gang that couldn’t drill straight. The two drill ships were built in 1977 and 1983 respectively and collectively put more time in port for repairs and on site drilling. Overlay the collapse in oil prices and the decimation of the Venezuelan economy since the precipitous drop in international oil prices since 2014 and one might well see why there is now a dispute between PDVSA and Petro-Saudi about payment on the overall contract.

The Venezuelan government investigated PDVSA for corruption. The irony is almost too delicious.