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Venezuelan Citizen Charged With FCPA Offenses In Connection Venezuelan Food Bribery Scheme

CLAP

Earlier this week a criminal information was filed in the Southern District of Florida charging Orlando Alfonso Contreras Saab (a citizen of Venezuela) with conspiracy to violate the FCPA in connection with an alleged Venezuelan bribery scheme.

According to the information, Contreras Saab and his co-conspirators “unlawfully enrich[ed] themselves by engaging in a scheme to bribe Venezuelan officials to obtain and retain contracts and other business advantages, including obtaining mutli-million-dollar contracts with entities and instrumentalities owned and controlled by the Venezuelan government for the production, importation, and distribution of food and medicine to the people of Venezuela.”

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Fifth Circuit’s Nullification Of Dismissal In Rafoi And Murta Reaffirms The Importance Of Preparing For FCPA Trials

Trialprep

A guest post from Andrew Feldman (The Feldman Firm PLLC which represents foreign nationals in FCPA cases and investigations with a focus on South America and Spain and recently represented Venezuelan nationals in an FCPA trial and is lead counsel in FCPA cases involving South American nationals including in Peru and Ecuador.).

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.

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Fifth Circuit Reinstates FCPA And Related Charges Against Rafoi-Bleuler And Murta Holding That – At This Stage Of The Proceedings – The Indictment Was Good Enough And Also Holds That The Term “Agent” Is Not Unconstitutionally Vague

Judicial Decision

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 …”.

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Individual FCPA Prosecutions – The Human Element

silo

As highlighted in this post, Judge Kenneth Hoyt (S.D. Tex) recently granted Paulo Casqueiro-Murta’s motion to dismiss Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (and related charges).

Judge Hoyt found, not just one, not just two, not just three, but four separate legal reasons for granting the dismissal. Moreover, because of these various reasons, Judge Hoyt found it unnecessary to decide Murta’s motion to dismiss based on a violation of the Speedy Trial Act.

In other words, it was a resounding victory for Murta.

However, victories as a defendant in a criminal case come at a high cost.

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Another Enforcement Action Involving Ecuador’s Seguros Sucre

seguros

From time to time, there are certain Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement actions in which the core allegations just seem to “keep on giving” and spawn several related enforcement actions.

A prime example were the many FCPA (and related) enforcement actions involving Haiti Teleco from approximately ten years ago (see here) and the many recent enforcement actions concerning Venezuela’s PDVSA.

Enforcement actions concerning Ecuador’s Seguros Sucre S.A. (“Seguros Sucre”), an alleged state-owned insurance company and “instrumentality” of the Ecuadorian government are beginning to add up.

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