You have likely read the script many times in the last several years.
An individual associated with small privately-held companies does business in Venezuela and paid alleged bribes (and/or laundered money) in connection with the bribery scheme.
The script repeated itself yesterday as the DOJ announced that Naman Wakil (pictured), a Syrian national and U.S. lawful permanent resident, was “arrested in Miami on charges related to his alleged role in a scheme to bribe Venezuelan officials and launder funds to obtain contracts from Venezuela’s state-owned and state-controlled energy company, Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA), and Venezuela’s state-owned and state-controlled food company that purchased food for Venezuela, Corporación de Abastecimiento y Servicios Agrícola (CASA).”
According to the indictment (which charges conspiracy to violate the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions, a substantive anti-bribery violation and other offenses), Wakil owned and controlled various companies that received funds from CASA (the Wakil Food Companies) including Wakil Food Company 1 and owned and controlled various companies that received funds from Petropiar and Petromiranda, directly or indirectly, relating to the provision of supplies to PDVSA Subsidiaries, including Wakil Oil Company 1 and Wakil Oil Company 2. (Petropiar is described as a joint venture between PDVSA and an American oil company and Petromiranda is described as a joint venture between PDVSA and a Russian Oil Company).
The indictment alleges that Wakil, along with others, paid bribes, directly or indirectly, to foreign officials in Venezuela including Venezuelan Officials 1, 2, 3, and 4 to secure their assistance in awarding contracts and providing business advantages to Wakil and his companies.
- Official 1 is described as a high-ranking official at CASA between 2010 to 2011.
- Official 2 is described as a high-ranking official at CASA between 2011 to 2014.
- Official 3 is described as a high-ranking official at Petromiranda between 2014 to 2017.
- Official 4 is described as a high-ranking official at Petropair between 2015 to 2017.
Under the heading “Bribes to CASA Officials,” the indictment alleges that Wakil “agreed to make corrupt payments to Venezuelan Official 1 to obtain and retain contracts and business advantages, including disbursements of contractual payments for the Wakil Food Companies with CASA. According to the indictment, “Wakil wire transferred approximately $750,000 in bribe payments from the Wakil Food Company 1 bank account in the Cayman Islands to a bank account in South Florida for the benefit of Venezuelan Official 1.” The indictment further alleges that “to conceal and disguise the true nature of these bribe payments, Wakil provided false invoices to the bank in the Cayman Islands falsely indicating that the payments were for, among other things, logistical services and customs paperwork.”
Under the heading “Bribes to PDVSA Officials,” the indictment alleges that Wakil “agreed to make corrupt payments to Venezuelan Official 3 in order to obtain and retain contracts and business advantages, including disbursements of contractual payments for the Wakil Oil Companies with Petromranda.” According to the indictment, Wakil “caused the transfer of approximately $250,000 from the Wakil Oil Company 1 bank account to a corporate account in the United States for the benefit of Venezuelan Official 3.” The indictment further alleges that Wakil “caused the transfer of ownership of a condominium worth approximately $300,000 in Miami, Florida to a corporate entity controlled by a close relative of Venezuelan Official 4 for the benefit of Venezuelan Official 4.”
Based on the above, Wakil was charged with conspiracy to violate the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions. In connection with the condo transfer, Wakil was also charged with a substantive violation of the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions. Based on the same general allegations, Wakil was also charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering, international promotional money laundering and three counts of engaging in transactions involving criminally derived property.
For more on Wakil, see here.