Chevron Oil Trader Indicted in International Commercial Bribery Scheme
HOUSTON – Two men have been charged in an international commercial bribery scheme which victimized Chevron Corporation, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson along with Inspector In Charge Adrian Gonzalez of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) and Rick Goss of Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI).
Shawn Thomas Potts, 41, of Pennsylvania, surrendered to federal authorities in Houston this morning and is expected to make his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Nancy Johnson at 2:00 p.m. today. Robert Stanley Corbitt, 71, of Houston, was arrested yesterday, made his initial appearance and was permitted release upon posting bond.
The indictment alleges the two men engaged in a wire fraud and money laundering conspiracy running from 2004 to 2012. According to the indictment, Potts, a Chevron oil trader based in New Jersey and later in London, England, steered Chevron oil trades to counterparties who were willing to pay him kickbacks. Corbitt, who worked as a consultant to counterparties on Chevron transactions, obtained kickbacks on transactions involving Potts. He also allegedly funneled kickback payments to Potts through a Cayman Islands bank account that he held. The Indictment alleges the kickback scheme deprived Chevron of the honest services of its employee, Potts. The kickback scheme allegedly involved Chevron oil purchases from Cameroon in West Africa, Belarus and Russia, among other locales.
“USPIS has sought for hundreds of years those who use the Postal Service for illegal gain,” said Gonzalez. “The ability to use the mail in a safe and secure manner is at the core of the Postal Inspection Service’s mission. When criminals use the mail to defraud, postal inspectors will not hesitate to ensure they are brought to justice.”
The Indictment details elaborate steps taken to conceal the scheme from Chevron and others and to launder the proceeds of the scheme. Potts, Corbitt and other conspirators allegedly used foreign entities and nominees to hold foreign bank accounts in Switzerland and the Cayman Islands to receive, hold and transfer kickback funds and submitted false invoices to disguise kickback payments as legitimate fees for service. The indictment also alleges they filed false tax returns that omitted kickback income and that falsely claimed no interest in foreign bank accounts. Potts and Corbitt allegedly received kickback funds in cash or caused money to be wired directly from nominee accounts in Switzerland to other individuals and entities on their behalf. According to the indictment, kickback funds were wired directly from Swiss bank accounts to car dealers in the United States for cars Potts and Corbitt were purchasing.
“Hiding income and assets offshore whether obtained legally or illegally is against the law,” said Goss. “IRS-CI has stepped up its efforts in the international financial arena and has become a trusted leader in pursuit of those who use hidden offshore accounts and companies to circumvent the law.”
Both men are charged with wire fraud conspiracy and conspiracy to commit money laundering. If convicted, they each face up to 20 years in federal prison. Corbitt is also charged with filing a false tax return and faces another three years upon conviction.
The charges are the result of an investigation by USPIS and IRS-CI. Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert S. Johnson is prosecuting the case.
An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.