Five Individuals Charged with Money Laundering in Connection with Alleged Venezuela Bribery Scheme
A federal grand jury in the Southern District of Florida returned an indictment on Oct. 7, which was unsealed today, charging three Colombian nationals and two Venezuelan nationals for their alleged roles in laundering the proceeds of contracts to provide food and medicine to Venezuela that were obtained through bribes.
According to court documents, Alvaro Pulido Vargas, aka German Enrique Rubio Salas, aka Cuchi, 57, of Colombia; Jose Gregorio Vielma-Mora, 55, of Venezuela; Emmanuel Enrique Rubio Gonzalez, 32, of Colombia; Carlos Rolando Lizcano Manrique, 50, of Colombia; and Ana Guillermo Luis, 49, of Venezuela, were charged in an indictment for their alleged roles in laundering the proceeds of a bribery scheme to obtain and retain inflated contracts through the Comité Local de Abastecimiento y Producción (CLAP), a Venezuelan state-owned and state-controlled food and medicine distribution program for the people of Venezuela.
The indictment alleges that beginning in or around July 2015 and continuing until at least 2020, Pulido, Vielma-Mora, Rubio, Lizcano, and Guillermo conspired with others to launder the proceeds of an illegal bribery scheme from bank accounts located in Antigua, United Arab Emirates, and elsewhere to and through bank accounts in the United States. According to the indictment, Pulido, Vielma-Mora, Rubio, Lizcano, and Guillermo and others obtained contracts with Venezuelan governmental entities to import and distribute boxes of food and medicine in Venezuela through CLAP by paying bribes to Venezuelan government officials, including Vielma-Mora. The defendants and their co-conspirators knowingly inflated the costs of the contracts to pay the bribes and unjustly enrich themselves. The indictment also alleges that co-conspirators directed funds to be transferred to promote the bribery scheme while in the United States, and wired money related to the scheme to bank accounts in the Southern District of Florida. As a result of the scheme, Pulido, Vielma-Mora, Rubio, Lizcano, Guillermo, and their co-conspirators allegedly received approximately $1.6 billion from the Republic of Venezuela, and transferred approximately $180 million through or to the United States.
The defendants are each charged in a five-count indictment with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and four counts of money laundering. If convicted, they each face a maximum total penalty of 100 years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting U.S. Attorney Juan Antonio Gonzalez for the Southern District of Florida, and Acting Special Agent in Charge La Verne J. Hibbert of the DEA Miami Field Office made the announcement.
This case was investigated by DEA Miami with assistance from the FBI’s Miami Field Office and Homeland Security Investigation’s Miami Field Office.
Trial Attorney Alexander J. Kramer of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Kurt K. Lunkenheimer of the Southern District of Florida are prosecuting the case.
An indictment is merely an allegation, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.