MIAMI – A Miami federal grand jury has indicted Maikel Jose Moreno Perez, 57, former president of the Venezuelan Supreme Court and current Venezuelan Supreme Court justice, with conspiring to launder and laundering bribes he received in exchange for using his position to resolve civil and criminal cases in Venezuela to favor bribe payers.
According to the criminal charging documents, as president of the Venezuelan Supreme Court, Moreno had the power to influence judicial decisions in Venezuela because he had the authority to determine the panel of judges hearing cases at the Supreme Court and the power to appoint or remove lower court judges on the trial and appellate level in Venezuela. This activity went on from 2014 through March 2019.
It is alleged that Moreno received more than $10 million dollars in bribes, typically from Venezuelan contractors who had received contracts from Venezuelan government-owned entities. In 2014, prior to his appointment as president of the Supreme Court, he received $1 million via wire transfers to his personal bank account in Miami from a Venezuelan contractor. This money was for agreeing to resolve future Venezuelan criminal cases in favor of this contractor.
During his tenure on the Supreme Court, Moreno received bribes in exchange for influencing actions in criminal cases, including dismissing criminal charges and arrest warrants or ordering home confinement for charged defendants, according to the criminal charging documents. Moreno received bribes from a contractor charged in the United States with a multi-billion-dollar fraud scheme to have a Venezuelan criminal case dismissed. He also received bribes in exchange for taking official actions in Venezuelan civil cases. He agreed to authorize the judicial seizure of a General Motors auto plant (valued at approximately $100 million) as part of a civil dispute in exchange for a percentage interest in proceeds from the sale of the plant, it is alleged. He maintained a bribe ledger that tracked millions of dollars of incoming bribes and personal expenses.
Moreno allegedly used bribe proceeds to purchase or renovate real estate around the world, including a villa in Tuscany, Italy, for 2.4 million euros, a luxury villa in La Romana, Dominican Republic, for $1.5 million, a building in Las Mercedes in Caracas, Venezuela, for $1.3 million, and an apartment in Miami for $1.3 million. He also used bribe proceeds for cars, luxury goods, luxury travel, and more than $300,000 for a musical performance at his wedding.
The indictment charges Moreno with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, one count of concealment of money laundering, and two counts of engaging in transactions in criminally derived property. The money laundering counts each carry a 20-year maximum sentence and the engaging in transactions in criminally derived property counts each carry a 10-year maximum sentence.
An indictment is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida Markenzy Lapointe and Acting Special Agent in Charge Michael E. Buckley, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Miami Field Office, made the announcement.
HSI Fort Lauderdale, El Dorado Task Force-South investigated this case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael N. Berger is prosecuting it and Assistant U.S. Attorney Marx P. Calderón is handling asset forfeiture.
You may find related court documents and information on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.