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What A Roller Coaster


Those in the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act community who follow enforcement actions and caselaw may sometimes forget that case names involve real human beings.

Most have heard of the following cases: Kay, Esquenazi, Hoskins, etc. However, these names are not just concepts, but represent real human beings, people with families, people with reputations, people with their liberty on the line.

Going through a contested FCPA enforcement has got to be quite a roller coaster of emotions.

Case in point is the DOJ’s prosecution of Paulo Casqueiro Murta.

As highlighted in this prior post, in September 2019 the DOJ announced the unsealing of a criminal indictment against (among others) 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.

As highlighted in this prior post, in July 2022 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. 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.

As highlighted in this prior post, the DOJ appealed the dismissal (along with a related dismissal of a co-defendant) and in February 2023 the Fifth Circuit reinstated FCPA and related charges against Murta (and a co-defendant) holding that – at this stage of the proceedings – the indictment was good enough and also holding that the term “agent” in the FCPA is not unconstitutional.

Back at the trial court level, Murta renewed his motion to dismiss the criminal charges based on a violation of the Speedy Trial Act (an issue – as mentioned above – was not addressed in the original motion to dismiss given the other reasons for dismissal). The motion stated in summary fashion:

“Paulo Murta moves this Court to dismiss the superseding indictment against him because his Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial has been violated. The Government is prosecuting him for actions it says he took more than a decade ago, yet the Government is still attempting to delay his trial. He was indicted four years ago, but the Government says it still needs more time to prepare. The Government continues to violate Mr. Murta’s constitutional right to a speedy trial, and the Court should dismiss the charges against him.”

Yesterday, Judge Hoyt granted Murta’s dismissal motions. The brief order states:

“The court has considered the defendant’s … opposed motions to dismiss the Superseding Indictment based on alleged violations of the Speedy Trial Act and violations of the Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial, the government’s responses, and the defendant’s reply. After careful consideration, the Court determines that the defendant’ motions should be grated. The motions are granted.

A Memorandum Opinion and Order detailing the Court’s reasoning will be entered within 10 days.”

Thereafter, the DOJ filed a motion to stay the order dismissing the charges.

The DOJ states:

“The government respectfully requests that this Court stay execution of its order dismissing the charges against Paulo Jorge Da Costa Casqueiro Murta (“Murta” or the “Defendant”) in the Superseding Indictment  until seven days after the issuance of its Memorandum Opinion and Order on the Motion to Dismiss or its Memorandum Opinion and Order on the Motion to Suppress, whichever is later. Alternatively, the United States respectfully requests that this Court stay execution of the dismissal order for 14 days in order to allow it adequate time to request a longer stay from the Fifth Circuit.”


[T]he “drastic consequences” if this Court erred in ordering dismissal of the charges against Murta militate in favor of a stay. Murta is charged for his role in a sprawling foreign bribery and money laundering scheme. Society has a significant interest in those charges being adjudicated. If this Court erred in dismissing the indictment and no stay is granted, those societal interests will be thwarted. Murta was extradited to the United States by Portugal after a lengthy process of appeals to multiple European courts – a process that took over two years. He has no legal status in the United States. If the dismissal order is not stayed, he is likely to leave of his own volition or be deported to Switzerland or Portugal in the near future. In the event that Murta returns to Switzerland, it is unlikely that the Swiss authorities would extradite him to the United States. If Murta returns to Switzerland, and the Fifth Circuit ultimately rules that this Court erred in dismissing the charges against Murta, the societal interest in his prosecution will be frustrated.”

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