Former Manager of Oil Trading Firm Charged in Money Laundering and Bribery Scheme
$870,000 in Bribes Allegedly Paid to Ecuadorian Government Officials to Win a $300 Million Oil Contract
An indictment was unsealed today in federal court in Brooklyn charging Javier Aguilar with conspiring to violate the anti-bribery provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and money laundering conspiracy for his involvement in a scheme to pay approximately $870,000 in bribes to Ecuadorian government officials in exchange their assistance to help Aguilar’s employer secure a $300 million contract for fuel oil from Ecuador’s state-owned oil company. Aguilar was previously arrested in Houston, Texas, and will be arraigned in the Eastern District of New York at a later date.
Seth D. DuCharme, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Brian C. Rabbitt, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, and George L. Piro, Special Agent-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Miami Field Office (FBI), announced the charges.
As alleged in the indictment and other court documents, Aguilar worked as a manager and oil trader in Houston for a United States subsidiary of a European energy trading company (the “Trading Company”). Beginning in mid-2015 and continuing into 2020, Aguilar and others allegedly caused approximately $870,000 in bribes to be paid to Ecuadorian government officials for their assistance in obtaining and retaining business for the Trading Company. Specifically, the Trading Company paid two intermediaries $1.4 million for their efforts to secretly bribe the government officials using bank accounts located in the United States and offshore, and $870,000 of those funds were used to pay the bribes to the Ecuadorian officials. In exchange for the bribes, the Trading Company secured contracts to purchase approximately $300 million in fuel oil from Petroecuador. To conceal the proceeds of the bribery scheme, Aguilar caused fake and fraudulent consulting agreements to be executed with so-called consultants located in the United States who were actually bribe intermediaries.
The charges in the indictment are allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. If convicted, Aguilar faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
The government’s investigation is being conducted by the FBI’s International Corruption Unit, Miami Field Office. The is case is being handled by the Office’s Business and Securities Fraud Section, the Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section (MLARS) and the Fraud Section. Assistant United States Attorneys Mark E. Bini and Andrey Spektor, MLARS Trial Attorneys Ann Brickley and Adam Schwartz, and Fraud Section Trial Attorney Derek Ettinger are prosecuting the case.
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 20-CR-390 (ENV)