Two Former Venezuelan Officials Charged and Two Businessmen Plead Guilty in Connection with Venezuela Bribery Scheme
A former Venezuelan government minister and a former officer at Venezuela’s state-owned and state-controlled electricity company, Corporación Eléctrica Nacional, S.A. (Corpoelec), were charged in an indictment returned today for their alleged roles in laundering the proceeds of violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) in connection with their alleged receipt of bribes to award Corpoelec business to U.S.-based companies. Today’s indictment follows the guilty pleas of two businessmen, earlier this week, for conspiring to violate the FCPA in connection with the corrupt payment scheme at Corpoelec.
Ariana Fajardo Orshan, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Brian A. Benczkowski, Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, and Adolphus P. Wright, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Miami Field Division (DEA Miami), made the announcement.
Luis Alfredo Motta Dominguez (Motta), 60, and Eustiquio Jose Lugo Gomez (Lugo), 55, both of Venezuela, were charged in an eight-count indictment returned today in the Southern District of Florida with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and seven counts of money laundering. Until recently, Motta was the minister of electrical energy in Venezuela and the head of Corpoelec; Lugo was the procurement director at Corpoelec.
The indictment alleges that beginning in or around January 2016 and continuing through December 2018, Motta and Lugo conspired with others to launder the proceeds of an illegal bribery scheme to and from bank accounts located in southern Florida. According to the indictment, Motta and Lugo awarded three Florida-based companies more than $60 million in procurement contracts with Corpoelec in exchange for bribes paid to them or for their benefit. The indictment further alleges that the unlawful activity was a bribery scheme that violated the FCPA and involved bribery offenses against Venezuela. According to the charges, a substantial portion of the proceeds from the corrupt contracts was laundered through U.S. financial institutions using bank accounts located in the Southern District of Florida.
An indictment is merely an allegation and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
On June 24, 2019, Jesus Ramon Veroes (Veroes), 69, of Venezuela, and Luis Alberto Chacin Haddad (Chacin), 54, of Miami, Florida, each pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga of the Southern District of Florida to one count of conspiracy to violate various provisions of the FCPA. Veroes and Chacin are scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Altonaga on Sept. 4, 2019.
According to admissions made in connection with their guilty pleas, Veroes and Chacin agreed with each other and with other co-conspirators to make corrupt payments to foreign officials at Corpoelec in exchange for the award of procurement contracts to Florida-based companies. Under the terms of their plea agreements, Veroes and Chacin will each be required to forfeit at least $5.5 million in profits from the corruptly obtained contracts, as well as real property in the Miami area.
This case was investigated by DEA Miami with assistance from the IRS Criminal Investigations Miami Field Office and the FBI’s Miami Field Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael B. Nadler of the Southern District of Florida, Trial Attorney John-Alex Romano of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, and Trial Attorney Joseph Palazzo of the Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section are prosecuting the case.
The Fraud Section is responsible for investigating and prosecuting all FCPA matters. Additional information about the Justice Department’s FCPA enforcement efforts can be found at www.justice.gov/criminal/fraud/fcpa.