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On June 24, two businessmen, Luis Alberto Chacin Haddad and Jesus Ramon Veroes, pleaded guilty in federal court in Miami to conspiracy to violate the FCPA. The charges relate to bribes paid to Venezuelan officials at a state-owned and state-run electricity company in an effort to obtain $60 million in contracts for their Florida-based businesses. Pursuant to their plea agreements, the businessmen will each forfeit at least $5.5 million in profits, as well as Miami-area real estate obtained with the ill-gotten gains. Sentencing is scheduled for September 4.
In addition, on June 27 the Venezuelan officials they allegedly bribed, Luis Alfredo Motta Dominguez (former minister of electrical energy in Venezuela and the head of the company) and Eustiquio Jose Lugo Gomez (former procurement director at the company), were charged by eight-count indictment in the Southern District of Florida. On the same day, the same officials were also sanctioned by OFAC. See related InfoBytes coverage here.
On July 11, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced sanctions, pursuant to Executive Order 13850, against the Government of Venezuela’s General Directorate of Military Counterintelligence (DGCIM) for operating in the country’s defense and security sector. According to OFAC, the DGCIM has been involved in human rights abuses and the “politically motivated” arrest and death of a Venezuelan Navy captain. As a result of the sanctions, all property and interests in property of the sanctioned entity or of other entities “that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more” by the sanctioned entity “that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons are blocked and must be reported to OFAC.” U.S. persons are also generally prohibited from entering into transactions with these entities. Furthermore, OFAC also referred financial institutions to Financial Crimes Enforcement Network advisories FIN-2019-A002, FIN-2017-A006, and FIN-2018-A003 for further information concerning the efforts of Venezuelan government agencies and individuals to use the U.S. financial system and real estate market to launder corrupt proceeds, as well as human rights abuses connected to corrupt foreign political figures and their financial facilitators.
On July 3, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced sanctions against Cuban state-run oil import and export company for continuing to provide support to the Maduro regime by the importation of oil from Venezuela. The sanctions are pursuant to Executive Order 13850. OFAC alleges that the state-run company has been the recipient of oil from Venezuela and has expanded its operations to include non-traditionally traded oil products. As a result of the sanctions, “all property and interests in property of these individuals, and of any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by such individuals, that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons are blocked and must be reported to OFAC.” OFAC notes that its regulations “generally prohibit” U.S. persons from participating in transactions with these individuals and entities.
Additionally, the announcement notes that OFAC is delisting an oil tanking company in recognition of the company’s actions to ensure that its vessels are not complicit in supporting the Maduro regime. As a result of the delisting, all property and interest of the company is now unblocked and lawful transactions involving U.S. persons are no longer prohibited.
On June 27 and 28, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated two Maduro regime officials and the son of Maduro for engaging in significant corruption and fraud to the detriment of the people of Venezuela. Specifically, OFAC designated the two regime officials pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13692, for having previously received bribes from two Venezuelan businessmen in exchange for awarding contracts for expensive equipment to maintain Venezuelan electrical infrastructure, which were incompatible with the Venezuelan electrical system. Continued corruption and mismanagement resulted in persistent countrywide blackouts, limiting the people’s access to basic goods, services, and potable water supplies, among other things.
Additionally, pursuant to E.O. 13692, OFAC designated the son of Maduro for being a current or former official of the Government of Venezuela and a member of Venezuela’s illegitimate National Constituent Assembly, “which seeks to rewrite the Venezuelan constitution and dissolve Venezuelan state institutions, [and] was created through an undemocratic process instigated by Maduro’s government to subvert the will of the Venezuelan people.”
OFAC amends Venezuela-related general licenses; temporarily extends two Ukraine-related general licenses
On June 26, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced General License (GL) 13B, which supersedes and replaces GL 13A. GL 13B expires on October 25. Additionally, OFAC extended the expiration date to November 8 of two Ukraine-related GLs by issuing GL 13L, which supersedes GL 13K, and GL 15F, which supersedes GL 15 E. OFAC also noted that GL 15F includes a new authorization for certain safety-related activity.
On June 6, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) amended three General Licenses (GL), (i) GL 7B, which supersedes GL 7A; (ii) GL 8A, which supersedes GL 8; and (iii) GL 13A, which supersedes GL 13, to clarify that these general licenses do not authorize transactions or dealings related to the exportation or re-exportation of diluents, directly or indirectly, to Venezuela. Additionally, OFAC is issuing corresponding FAQ 672 to provide further guidance with respect to restrictions regarding diluents.
Visit here for additional InfoBytes coverage of actions related to Venezuela.
On May 29, the DOJ announced that a dual U.S.-Venezuelan citizen pleaded guilty for his role in a bribery scheme involving oil and natural gas company officials. The citizen pleaded guilty in the Southern District of Texas to conspiracy to violate the FCPA, violating the FCPA, and failing to report foreign bank accounts. His sentencing is set for August 28.
He controlled multiple U.S. and international companies that provided goods and services to the company. According to the DOJ, the U.S. citizen and a co-conspirator paid at least $629,000 in bribes to a former company official in exchange for favorable business treatment for his companies. Prior FCPA Scorecard coverage is available here.
OFAC imposes additional oil sector sanctions connected to Venezuela’s defense and intelligence sector
On May 10, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced that it had determined that persons operating in Venezuela’s defense and security sector may be subject to sanctions. Additionally, OFAC imposed sanctions against two companies for their alleged involvement in the transportation of oil from Venezuela to Cuba, which provides support to former President Maduro’s defense and intelligence sector. According to the Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin, “[OFAC’s] action today puts Venezuela’s military and intelligence services, as well as those who support them, on notice that their continued backing of the illegitimate Maduro regime will be met with serious consequences.” Furthermore, OFAC also referred financial institutions to Financial Crimes Enforcement Network advisories FIN-2019-A002, FIN-2017-A006, and FIN-2018-A003 for further information concerning the efforts of Venezuelan government agencies and individuals to use the U.S. financial system and real estate market to launder corrupt proceeds, as well as human rights abuses connected to corrupt foreign political figures and their financial facilitators.
Visit here for continuing InfoBytes coverage of actions related to Venezuela.
On May 7, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced it removed sanctions imposed on a former high-ranking Venezuelan official in the Maduro regime after he broke ties with the regime. As previously covered by InfoBytes, the sanctions were imposed in February of this year pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13692. As a result of the removal, any otherwise lawful transactions involving U.S. persons and the individual are no longer prohibited. OFAC emphasized that the action “demonstrates that U.S. sanctions need not be permanent and are intended to bring about a positive change of behavior,” and further “shows the good faith of the [U.S.] that removal of sanctions may be available for designated persons who take concrete and meaningful actions to restore democratic order, refuse to take part in human rights abuses, speak out against abuses committed by the illegitimate Maduro regime, or combat corruption in Venezuela.”
On May 3, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued an updated advisory to warn financial institutions of continued public corruption and attempted money laundering related to Venezuelan government agencies and political figures. The advisory updates a September 2017 advisory (previously covered by InfoBytes here) and renews the description of public corruption in Venezuela. The advisory also describes how “corrupt Venezuelan senior political figures exploit a Venezuelan government-administered food program by directing overvalued, no-bid contracts to co-conspirators that use ‘an over-invoicing trade-based money laundering’” scheme, which involves, among other things, front or shell companies, non-dollar denominated accounts, and nested accounts designed to evade sanctions and anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) controls. The advisory also notes attempts by former President Maduro’s regime to evade sanctions and AML/CFT controls through the use of digital currency. The update provides revised financial red flags to assist with the identification and reporting of suspicious activity to FinCEN in connection with senior Venezuelan political figures.
FinCEN further emphasizes that financial institutions should continue to follow a risk-based approach and that normal transactions involving Venezuelan business and nationals are not necessarily reflective of the aforementioned risks.
See here for continuing InfoBytes coverage of actions related to Venezuela.
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss “How the new administration sets the tone for 2021” at the American Conference Institute Legal, Regulatory and Compliance Forum on Fintech & Emerging Payment Systems
- Sherry-Maria Safchuk to discuss UDAAP at an American Bar Association webinar
- Jeffrey P. Naimon to discuss "What to expect: The new administration and regulatory changes" at the Mortgage Bankers Association Legal Issues and Regulatory Compliance Conference
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss “The future of fair lending” at the Mortgage Bankers Association Legal Issues and Regulatory Compliance Conference
- Steven R. vonBerg to discuss "LO comp challenges" at the Mortgage Bankers Association Legal Issues and Regulatory Compliance Conference
- Michelle L. Rogers to discuss "Major litigation" at the Mortgage Bankers Association Legal Issues and Regulatory Compliance Conference
- Michelle L. Rogers to discuss “The False Claims Act today” at the Federal Bar Association Qui Tam Section Roundtable