The Department of Justice (DOJ) has charged five former employees of Venezuela’s state energy company with money laundering, two of which were also charged with conspiring to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). The defendants, Luis Carlos De Leon Peres, Nervis Gerardo Villalobos Cardenas, Cesar David Rincon Godoy, and Rafael Ernesto Reiter Munoz, were arrested by local authorities in Spain in October of last year and face up to 20 years in prison including an additional 5 years for the FCPA violation. However, the fifth defendant, Alejandro Isturiz Chiesa, is still at large.
While working for Petroleos de Venezuela S.A (PDVSA) these five defendants received at least $27 million in bribes in exchange for helping vendors win work and get paid during a liquidity crisis at the company. The defendants allegedly laundered part of the bribe money through transactions such as real estate or other investments in the United States.
The DOJ charged 15 defendants in the case in total including two vendors, Jose Shiera and Roberto Rincon, who both live in the United States. In 2016, Shiera and Rincon plead guilty to violating and conspiracy to violate the FCPA and are now waiting to be sentenced.
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