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U.S. charges brother of Honduran official with laundering bribe money

Carlos Alberto Zelaya Rojas A federal grand jury in New Orleans indicted the brother of a Honduras government official for trying to launder more than $1.3 million in bribe money.

The grand jury returned a 12-count indictment charging Carlos Alberto Zelaya Rojas, 47, with money laundering.

He’s also charged with perjury, impeding an official proceeding, and impairing the court’s jurisdiction over property subject to forfeiture.

Rojas was living in New Orleans.

The DOJ said his brother is the former chief of the Honduran Institute of Social Security.

Rojas conspired with his brother and others to launder over $1.3 million in bribes, the DOJ said.

The bribes allegedly came from two Honduran businessmen for the benefit of Rojas’s brother.

“The funds were then laundered into the New Orleans area through international wire transfers and used to purchase real estate,” the DOJ said.

Rojas was arrested Tuesday.

A judge ordered him held at least until his detention hearing on May 3.

According to the indictment, Rojas allegedly lied to investigators and a federal judge about the source of the funds used to buy New Orleans-area properties.

He also allegedly spent rental income he received from the New Orleans properties, despite a court order “to preserve the funds pending resolution of a federal forfeiture action.”

As the DOJ says, an indictment is merely an accusation. And all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.


Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog.

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1 Comment

  1. This is a case of a political exposed person (PEP), real close associates (RCA). It speaks to the importance of financial institutions to have proper risk management system in place, especially in the on boarding stage when detailed personal information to help identify the customer must b obtained. It is very important to obtain source of income, current occupation or business. Also, it is important to inquire if customer is related to any current or former PEP. This is an important finding as illicit funds whether from corruption, bribes, or other forms have been laundered in various countries and have contributed to the lack of economic growth and development of the country being abused.
    This case demonstrated excellent work of the law agencies involved especially looking in on real estate purchases over a certain amount.

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