Venezuela continues to be an attractive target for federal prosecutors investigating bribery and corruption. And, most, if not all, defendants in Venezuela FCPA cases have plead guilty opting against a trial. Months ago though, in a series of surprising opinions (here and here), a federal judge dismissed all counts in an indictment in a complex Foreign Corrupt Practices Act or “FCPA” and money laundering case involving Venezuela and Petroleos De Venezuela, SA (or PDVDSA). The defendants who benefitted from those dismissals were a Swiss national, Daisy Teresa Rafoi Bleuler, and a Swiss/Portuguese national, Paulo Jorge Da Costa Casquiero Murta.
As highlighted in this prior post, in 2019 Daisy Rafoi-Bleuler (a citizen of Switzerland and partner in a Swiss Wealth Management firm) and Paulo Caqueiro Murta (a citizen of Portugal and Switzerland and employee in a Swiss Management firm) were criminally charged with Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and related offenses for allegedly directing bribes to various individuals at PDVSA (Venezuela’s state-owned and state-controlled energy company).
As highlighted in this post, in late October 2020 Rafoi-Bleuler filed a motion to dismiss the criminal charges. In summary fashion, the motion argued: “The indictment of Ms. Rafoi-Bleuler, a citizen and resident of Switzerland, continues the worrisome trend by the Department of Justice to stretch the reach of the United States’ criminal statutes beyond Congress’ intent in an attempt to police the world. Despite having violated no laws in Switzerland and having no contact with the United States …, Ms. Rafoi-Bleuler finds herself hailed into a U.S. court in contravention of clear statutory language, legal precedent, and international norms. Courts have increasingly, and correctly, rejected such attempts by the government and this Court should continue as well …”.
As highlighted in this prior post in September 2019 the DOJ announced the unsealing of a criminal indictment against (among others) Paulo Casqueiro-Murta in connection with an alleged bribery scheme involving Venezuela’s state-owned and state-controlled energy company, PDVSA.
According to the DOJ, Murta (a citizen of Portugal and Switzerland) provided financial services to various co-defendants (including former employees of PDVSA) in connection with various bribery schemes and he was charged with directly violating or assisting others in violating the FCPA and money laundering laws.
Recently, Judge Kenneth Hoyt (S.D. Tex) granted Murta’s motion to dismiss the charges based on lack of jurisdiction, lack of due process, vagueness, and statute of limitation issues.
Shearman & Sterling recently released its annual “Recent Trends and Patterns in the Enforcement of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.”
Year in and year out, it is one of the best law firm generated FCPA year in review publications.
For years, Philip Urofsky (a former Assistant Chief of the DOJ Fraud Section where he handled FCPA matters) has been a primary author of the publication and in connection with this year’s release Urofsky announced that it would be his last “FCPA Trends and Patterns” publication as he is retiring.
As highlighted in this prior post, in 2019 Daisy Rafoi-Bleuler (a citizen of Switzerland and partner in a Swiss Wealth Management firm) was criminally charged with Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and related offenses for allegedly directing bribes to various individuals at PDVSA (Venezuela’s state-owned and state-controlled energy company).
As highlighted in this post, a judge recently dismissed the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (and related charges) for lack of jurisdiction while also hinting that the term “agent” in the FCPA is unconstitutionally vague.