Febe Durango-Rueda, 52, a Colombian national, pleaded guilty on Nov. 20, 2009, to participating in a scheme to defraud the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) of more than $1 million.
Durango pleaded guilty before Judge Richard W. Roberts in U.S. District Court in Washington to a one-count criminal information charging her with conspiracy to defraud the Ex-Im Bank and to commit mail fraud. Durango was arrested by special agents of the Ex-Im Bank Office of the Inspector General on May 4, 2009, at Miami International Airport while attempting to enter the United States. According to the court document, the Ex-Im Bank is an independent U.S. agency that assists in the export of U.S. goods and services to companies overseas, in part through guaranteeing loans to foreign purchasers of U.S. goods.
According to plea documents, Durango was the president of Droservicios Ltda., a Colombian medical services company. Durango admitted that she and others falsified financial statements that Droservicios submitted to the Ex-Im Bank in support of a loan guarantee for a deal worth more than $1.3 million.
Specifically, Durango and others applied for an Ex-Im Bank loan guarantee that purported to be for the purpose of increasing Droservicios’s leasing services of specialized medical equipment to public health institutions. According to the application, the specialized medical equipment was to include a CT scanner and mammography unit as well as other medical imaging equipment. Durango admitted that she and others then shipped medical equipment of a much lesser value than the specialized medical equipment that was the basis for the Ex-Im Bank guaranteed loan and fabricated invoices to fraudulently reflect that the specialized medical equipment was purchased and shipped. Durango admitted that she and others shared the difference in the loan amount and the purchase price of the less valuable medical equipment that was actually purchased and shipped. According to court documents, Durango and others then allowed the loan to default, triggering the Ex-Im Bank’s obligation to cover the debt. The Ex-Im Bank, without knowing of the fraud committed by Durango and others, paid more than $1.3 million to satisfy the guarantee.
Durango is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 4, 2010, and faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. According to the plea, Durango has agreed to pay $139,064 in forfeiture and make full restitution in the amount of $1,332,081.
The scheme was initially discovered by Ex-Im Bank staff in October 2006 and referred to the Ex-Im Bank Office of Inspector General in 2007 for further investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Nicole H. Sprinzen and Brigham Cannon of the Criminal Division's Fraud Section. The case is being investigated by the Ex-Im Bank, Office of Inspector General and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.