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Sargeant Marine Cements $16.6 FCPA Resolution With DOJ Regarding Bribery Schemes In Brazil, Venezuela, And Ecuador

Sargeant Marine

Earlier this week, the DOJ announced that Sargeant Marine Inc. (SMI – an asphalt company based in Florida) “pleaded guilty and agreed to pay $16.6 million to resolve foreign bribery charges stemming from conduct by the company and its employees and agents in Brazil, Venezuela and Ecuador.”

The total criminal penalty was actually $90 million, but because of SMI’s “inability to pay” the settlement amount was only $16.6 million.

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Citgo Employees As Foreign Officials

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In this 2009 post, the issue was raised whether the DOJ’s “foreign official” interpretation would become so broad that employees of Citgo Petroleum (a Delaware corporation with headquarters in Houston) would be considered “foreign officials” under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act because Citgo is a subsidiary of Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA).

In this little noticed FCPA enforcement from February 2020 against Tulio Anibal Farias-Perez in the sprawling PDVSA related actions, the DOJ did allege this theory of prosecution.

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The Case That Just Keeps On Giving – DOJ Announces Additional Charges In PDVSA Bribery Action Against Employees Of Swiss Wealth Management Firm – Previously Charged FCPA Defendant Files Motion To Dismiss

PDVSA

Several prior posts (see hereherehere and here for instance) have highlighted the clustering phenomenon and how a few discreet instances of alleged bribery yield an inordinate amount of Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement activity against individuals.

One such example is the DOJ’s long-standing enforcement action (charges were first brought in late 2015) in connection with alleged corrupt schemes to secure contracts from Venezuela’s state-owned and state-controlled energy company, PDVSA.

In this recently unsealed indictment, Nervis Villalobos Cardenas (a citizen of Venezuela), 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 charged with conspiracy to violate the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions as well as other offenses. In the indictment, various former employees of PDVSA entities (alleged to be “foreign officials”) were also charged with money laundering offenses. As highlighted in this prior post, Villalobos was previously charged with FCPA and related offenses in early 2018.

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Stiffed By Co-Conspirators, Individual Cooperates With Government And The End Result Is Yet Another FCPA Enforcement Action Concerning Conduct In Venezuela

corpoelec

Earlier this week, the DOJ announced yet another Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and related enforcement action concerning conduct in Venezuela.

Jesus Ramon Veroes and Luis Alberto Chacin Haddad were each charged and plead guilty to conspiracy to violate the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions in connection with obtaining various contracts with Corporacion Electric Nacional S.A. (Corpoelec), Venezuela’s state-owned electric company.

In the resolution documents, Veroes is described as a Venezuelan citizen whose close relative is the President of NV Oriental Trading Corporation (a company based in Doral, Florida) and Chacin is described as a Venezuelan citizen and resident of the U.S. who owns and manages businesses in Miami including Search Trading LLC and Headline LLC (companies that purchase goods from around the world for export to Central and South America).

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Citgo Reportedly Under Scrutiny

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This 2009 post highlighted, in connection with a Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement action concerning conduct involving Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA) (the Venezuelan state-owned oil company) that one of PDVSA’s wholly-owned subsidiaries is Citgo Petroleum Corp.

It was noted that, under the DOJ/SEC’s interpretation, all CITGO employees are thus “foreign officials” under the FCPA despite the fact that CITGO is a Delaware corporation based in Houston. It was further noted that Citgo is both subject to the FCPA and all of its employees (under the DOJ/SEC interpretation) are “foreign officials” under the FCPA.

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