Two Intermediaries Indicted for Their Alleged Participation in Scheme To Bribe Officials at State-owned Electrical Utility in Mexico
WASHINGTON – Two intermediaries were indicted for their alleged roles in a conspiracy to pay and launder bribes to Mexican government officials at the Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE), a state-owned utility company, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney André Birotte for the Central District of California; Steven M. Martinez, Special Agent-in-Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office; and Leslie DeMarco, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation’s (IRS-CI) Los Angeles Field Office.
Enrique Faustino Aguilar Noriega, 56, of Cuernavaca, Mexico, was charged in a seven-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Los Angeles on Sept. 15, 2010, with conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), FCPA violations, money laundering conspiracy and money laundering. Angela Maria Gomez Aguilar, 55, of Cuernavaca, was charged with money laundering conspiracy and money laundering.
According to the indictment, CFE is responsible for supplying electricity in Mexico and contracts with Mexican and foreign companies for goods and services to help supply electricity services to its customers.
The indictment alleges that Enrique and Angela Aguilar were directors of Grupo Internacional de Asesores S.A. (Grupo), which purported to provide sales representation services for companies doing business with CFE. According to the indictment, Grupo was hired by an Azusa, Calif.,-based company to serve as its sales representative in Mexico and to obtain contracts for it from CFE. Grupo received a percentage of the revenue the Azusa-based company realized from its contracts with CFE. The Azusa-based company manufactured emergency restoration systems and other equipment used by electrical utility companies. According to the indictment, many of the company’s clients were foreign, state-owned utilities, including CFE, which was one of the company’s most significant customers.
From approximately February 2002 until March 2009, Enrique Aguilar and his co-conspirators allegedly orchestrated a scheme in which Enrique Aguilar was paid a 30 percent commission on all the goods and services the Azusa-based company sold to CFE, even though this was a significantly higher commission than previous sales representatives for the company had received. The indictment alleges that Enrique Aguilar’s co-conspirators understood that all or part of the 30 percent commission would be used to pay bribes to Mexican officials in exchange for CFE awarding contracts to the Azusa-based company. The costs of goods and services sold to CFE allegedly were increased by 30 percent to ensure that the added cost of paying Enrique Aguilar was absorbed by CFE and not the Azusa-based company.
Enrique Aguilar allegedly caused fraudulent invoices to be submitted from Grupo to the Azusa-based company for 30 percent of the contract price. According to the indictment, a co-conspirator would then wire the money requested in the fraudulent invoices into Grupo’s brokerage account, allegedly knowing that the invoices were fraudulent and the funds were being used as bribes.
Enrique and Angela Aguilar allegedly then laundered the money in the Grupo brokerage account to make concealed payments for the benefit of CFE officials. According to the indictment, Enrique and Angela Aguilar purchased a yacht for approximately $1.8 million and a Ferrari for $297,500 for a CFE official. According to the indictment, Enrique and Angela Aguilar also paid more than $170,000 worth of American Express bills for a CFE official and sent approximately $600,000 to relatives of a CFE official.
Angela Aguilar was arrested on Aug. 10, 2010, on a criminal complaint when she travelled to Houston from Mexico. She was ordered detained and removed to the Central District of California, where she remains in custody.
An indictment is merely an accusation, and defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
The FCPA conspiracy charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a fine of the greater of $250,000 or twice the value gained or lost. Each of the four FCPA counts carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a fine of the greater of $100,000 or twice the value gained or lost. The conspiracy and substantive money laundering counts each carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of the greater of $500,000 or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction. The indictment also gives notice of criminal forfeiture.
The case is being prosecuted by Senior Trial Attorney Nicola J. Mrazek of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Douglas M. Miller in the Central District of California. The case was investigated by the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office and the IRS-CI Los Angeles Field Office, with the assistance of the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General. Significant assistance was provided by Trial Attorney Christopher Dana of the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs.