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  • OFAC sanctions Venezuelan security officials connected to Maduro regime

    Financial Crimes

    On March 1, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced sanctions against six Venezuelan security officials connected to former President Maduro’s “illegitimate regime.” According to OFAC, the sanctions, taken pursuant to Executive Order 13692, designate the individuals in response to actions taken by groups under their control that have obstructed the delivery of humanitarian aid. As a result, any assets or interests therein belonging to the identified individuals, as well as any entities directly or indirectly owned 50 percent or more by such individuals that are subject to U.S. jurisdiction are blocked and must be reported to OFAC. U.S. persons are also prohibited generally from dealing with any such property or interests. OFAC also refers financial institutions to Financial Crimes Enforcement Network advisories FIN-2017-A006 and FIN-2017-A003 for further information concerning the use of the U.S. financial system and real estate market by Venezuelan government agencies and individuals to launder corrupt proceeds.

    See here for continuing InfoBytes coverage of actions related to Venezuela.

    Financial Crimes OFAC Department of Treasury Venezuela Sanctions

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  • DOJ charges two more in Venezuelan bribery scheme

    Financial Crimes

    In an indictment unsealed on February 26, the DOJ charged a former sales representative and the president of a U.S.-based company with conspiracy to commit bribery, wire fraud, and money laundering, and substantive wire fraud, for their alleged roles in “a scheme to corruptly secure business advantages, including contracts and payment on past due invoices, from Venezuela’s state-owned and state-controlled energy company.” The indictment alleges that from approximately 2009 to 2013, the sales representative and the president of the company conspired to bribe three of the energy company officials in exchange for providing advantages to the unnamed company, including through the creation of fictitious invoices from Panamanian shell companies. 

    According to the indictment, in exchange for the bribes the energy company officials allegedly assisted the company in obtaining additional energy company contracts, inside information, and payment on past due invoices. The defendants are also alleged to have received kickbacks in connection with the scheme. In total, the sales representative is alleged to have received over $985,000 and the president of the company over $258,000 in kickback payments. Two of the three officials that the defendants are accused of bribing have pleaded guilty in connection with the case and are pending sentencing.

    Financial Crimes DOJ Anti-Money Laundering Bribery Of Interest to Non-US Persons

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  • OFAC sanctions Venezuelan governors aligned with Maduro regime

    Financial Crimes

    On February 25, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced sanctions against four Venezuelan governors connected to former President Maduro’s “illegitimate regime.” According to OFAC, the sanctions, taken pursuant to Executive Order 13692, designate the individuals for engaging in “endemic corruption” and allegedly “blocking the delivery of critical humanitarian aid.” As a result, any assets or interests therein belonging to the identified individuals—along with any entities directly or indirectly owned 50 percent or more by such individuals—subject to U.S. jurisdiction are blocked and must be reported to OFAC. U.S. persons are also prohibited generally from dealing with any such property or interests. In addition, OFAC refers financial institutions to Financial Crimes Enforcement Network advisories FIN-2017-A006 and FIN-2017-A003 for further information concerning the use of the U.S. financial system and real estate market by Venezuelan government agencies and individuals to launder corrupt proceeds.

    See here for continuing InfoBytes coverage of actions related to Venezuela.

    Financial Crimes Department of Treasury OFAC Venezuela Sanctions FinCEN

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  • OFAC sanctions officials aligned with Maduro regime

    Financial Crimes

    On February 15, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced additions to the Specially Designated Nationals List pursuant to Executive Order 13692. OFAC’s additions to the list include five current or former officials connected to former President Maduro, including the president of Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, which was sanctioned at the end of January. (See previous InfoBytes coverage here.) According to OFAC, the designated individuals have engaged in “significant corruption and fraud against the people of Venezuela,” and continue to assist the Maduro regime’s repression of Venezuelan people. As a result, any assets or interests therein belonging to the identified individuals—along with any entities directly or indirectly owned 50 percent or more by such individuals—subject to U.S. jurisdiction are blocked and must be reported to OFAC. U.S. persons are prohibited generally from dealing with any such property or interests.

    See here for continuing InfoBytes coverage of actions related to Venezuela.

    Financial Crimes OFAC Department of Treasury Sanctions Venezuela

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  • OFAC amends Venezuela-related General Licenses and FAQs on sanctioned oil company

    Financial Crimes

    On February 11, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) amended two General Licenses (GL) and issued three revised FAQs regarding sanctions against Venezuela’s state-owned oil company pursuant to Executive Order 13850. GL 3C, which supersedes GL 3B, authorizes transactions related to, provision of financing for, and other dealings in certain bonds, provided the divestment or transfer (including the facilitation) of any holdings of these bonds are to a non-U.S. person. GL 9B, which supersedes GL 9A, authorizes certain transactions related to securities issued prior to August 25, 2017 by the oil company and its subsidiaries. Additionally, OFAC issued revised FAQs 650, 661, and 662 to provide additional clarification on expected levels of due diligence, as well as implications for U.S. and non-U.S. persons.

    Visit here for additional InfoBytes coverage of actions related to Venezuela.

    Financial Crimes OFAC Department of Treasury Venezuela Sanctions

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  • OFAC revises Venezuela-related General Licenses on sanctioned oil company, issues new FAQs

    Financial Crimes

    On February 1, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) amended two General Licenses (GL) and issued two new FAQs regarding sanctions against Venezuela’s state-owned oil company pursuant to Executive Order 13850.

    OFAC amended GL 3B to authorize transactions related to, provision of financing for, and other dealings in certain bonds. GL 9A, which supersedes GL 9, authorizes certain transactions related to securities issued prior to August 25, 2017 by the oil company and its subsidiaries. GL 9A and related FAQ 661 clarify that trades in the oil company’s securities placed prior to 4:00 pm EST on January 28, 2019, are generally authorized “to settle in the ordinary course, irrespective of whether the sale or transfer is to a non-U.S. person.”

    Visit here for additional InfoBytes coverage of Venezuela actions.

    Financial Crimes OFAC Department of Treasury Sanctions Venezuela

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  • OFAC announces sanctions against Venezuela’s state-owned oil company

    Financial Crimes

    On January 28, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced sanctions against Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, PDVSA. As a result, all assets belonging to the company subject to U.S. jurisdiction are blocked, and U.S. persons generally are prohibited from dealing with the company. However, OFAC concurrently issued a number of licenses in order to authorize certain transactions with the company and its subsidiaries, including those necessary to wind down operations or existing contracts.

    Visit here for additional InfoBytes coverage of Venezuela actions and E.O.s.

    Financial Crimes OFAC Department of Treasury Sanctions Venezuela Trump Executive Order Of Interest to Non-US Persons

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  • OFAC adds illicit foreign exchange operation participants to Specially Designated Nationals List; issues Venezuela-related General License and new FAQ

    Financial Crimes

    On January 8, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced additions to the Specially Designated Nationals List pursuant to Executive Order 13850. OFAC’s additions to the list include seven individuals—including former Venezuelan government officials—and 23 entities for their participation in a bribery scheme involving the Venezuelan Office of the National Treasury in order to conduct illicit foreign exchange operations in the country. According to OFAC, the designated persons engaged in transactions involving deceptive practices and corruption, including wiring payments that were “hidden behind a sophisticated network of U.S. and foreign companies that hid the individuals’ beneficial ownership.” As a result, all assets belonging to the identified individuals and entities subject to U.S. jurisdiction are blocked, and U.S. persons generally are prohibited from dealing.

    Visit here for additional InfoBytes coverage on Venezuela sanctions.

    Financial Crimes Sanctions OFAC Department of Treasury Venezuela International Of Interest to Non-US Persons

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  • Former officer of Venezuela oil company pleads guilty to obstruction

    Financial Crimes

    On December 10, a former procurement officer of a Venezuela’s state-owned and state-controlled energy company, pleaded guilty to one count of obstructing an investigation into bribes paid by the owner of U.S.-based companies to Venezuelan government officials in exchange for securing additional business with the company and payment priority on outstanding issues. The former procurement officer, who previously worked for the company in Houston, Texas, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding. 

    The charge stems from a guilty plea he entered on December 10, 2015, to one count of conspiracy to launder money and one count of making false statements on his federal income tax return. Under the terms of a plea agreement in that case, he agreed to cooperate with the investigation by being interviewed by the United States, and to providing “truthful, complete and accurate information” to government agents and attorneys. In the latest plea, though, he admitted that after his earlier plea, he concealed facts about bribes paid to the company by a target of the investigation, referred to as Co-Conspirator 1 in the indictment. Additionally, he informed Co-Conspirator 1 that U.S. government authorities were investigating Co-Conspirator 1, and provided Co-Conspirator 1 with information about the investigation, including the topics discussed in his meetings with the government. Consequently, Co-Conspirator 1 destroyed evidence and attempted to flee the country in July 2018. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 19, 2019.

    Financial Crimes Bribery Anti-Money Laundering

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  • Co-conspirators sentenced in Venezuelan bribery scheme involving Venezuelan TV mogul

    Financial Crimes

    Two co-conspirators of a billionaire news network owner were sentenced this week as part of the DOJ’s recently unsealed prosecution of a bribery scheme involving over $1 billion paid in bribes to members of the Venezuelan government. According to the DOJ, the owner was indicted under seal in August for conspiracy to violate the FCPA, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and nine counts of money laundering. Two co-conspirators, Florida resident and former Venezuelan National Treasurer, and Chicago resident and former owner of a Dominican Republic bank, each pleaded guilty under seal to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, and were sentenced in federal court earlier this week.

    According to the owner’s indictment, he allegedly bribed members of the Venezuelan government—including former Venezuelan National Treasurer—in exchange for the right to handle the government’s foreign currency exchange transactions, and then acquired a bank in order to launder the bribe money and other illicit proceeds. To do so, the owner allegedly moved money from Switzerland to accounts in Florida and New York and used it to purchase luxury items such as “jets, a yacht, multiple champion horses, and numerous high-end watches.”

    In December 2017, the former Venezuelan National Treasurer pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, admitting to taking bribes in exchange for helping his co-conspirators—including the owner—by choosing them to conduct currency exchanges at favorable rates to the Venezuelan government. As part of his plea, the former Venezuelan National Treasurer agreed to cooperate and pay a forfeiture money judgment of $1 billion through the forfeiture of “real estate, vehicles, horses, watches, aircraft, and bank accounts.” On November 27, 2018, U.S. Southern District of Florida Judge Robin L. Rosenberg sentenced the former Venezuelan National Treasurer to 10 years in prison, the maximum under his plea deal.

    In March 2018, Chicago resident and former owner of a Dominican Republic bank took a similar plea deal, pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, admitting to helping the owner and others acquire and then launder money through the bank. On November 29, 2018, he was sentenced to 3 years in prison.

    The Miami Herald has also reported that the owner's personal banker was sentenced last month for his role in another money laundering scheme involving a Venezuelan state-owned oil company. Coverage of the company's prosecutions is available here.

    Financial Crimes DOJ Anti-Money Laundering Bribery

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