A dual U.S.-Venezuelan citizen was arrested at Miami International Airport Tuesday and charged with bribing an official at Venezuela’s state-owned energy company.
The DOJ charged businessman Jose Manuel Gonzalez Testino (Gonzalez) with conspiring to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and with substantive FCPA offenses.
Gonzalez, 48, and a co-conspirator paid at least $629,000 in bribes to a former official at Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA), according to the indictment.
In exchange for the bribes, the official was supposed to help Gonzalez’s companies win contracts from PDVSA and get them paid before other vendors.
The bribes were also intended to make sure PDVSA awarded the contracts in U.S. dollars instead of Venezuelan bolivars, prosecutors said.
The DOJ filed the indictment in federal court in Houston. It was unsealed Tuesday.
Gonzalez made his first court appearance Wednesday in Miami.
He’s the seventeenth defendant charged in the PDVSA case. Twelve have pleaded guilty.
The defendants include both vendors and former PDVSA officials.
The vendors are mostly charged with FCPA-related offenses while the former PDVSA officials generally face money laundering charges.
The DOJ said Wednesday the charges against Gonzalez are merely allegations and he’s 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.