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Former Colombia anti-corruption chief pleads guilty to U.S. bribery charges

The former Colombian National Director of Anti-Corruption pleaded guilty in Miami after a DEA sting operation caught him soliciting a $132,000 bribe to undermine an investigation into a local politician.

According to his plea, Luis Gustavo Moreno Rivera, 36, conspired to launder money in order to promote foreign bribery.

Leonardo Pinilla Gomez, 31, a Colombian lawyer, also pleaded guilty, the DOJ said last week.

Moreno and Pinilla were arrested in Colombia last year on an Interpol Red Notice and extradited to the United States in May.

The DOJ said Moreno and Pinilla solicited a bribe from former Colombian governor Alejandro Lyons Muskus of Córdoba, a cooperating witness for the DEA.

U.S. prosecutors said Moreno agreed in June 2017 to take $132,000 in cash from Lyons. In return, Moreno promised to discredit a witness in a case against Lyons before the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.

The DOJ said $100 bills from some of the money Lyons paid to Moreno and Pinilla were found on Moreno and his family when they boarded a flight from Miami back to Bogota.

According to the DOJ, Lyons wore a wire when he met with Moreno in Miami.

“Recorded conversations revealed that Moreno and Pinilla discussed Moreno’s ability to control the investigation into [Lyons] and that Moreno could inundate his prosecutors with work so that they would be unable to focus on the [Lyons’] investigation,” the DOJ said.

In Colombia, prosecutors charged Lyons last year with embezzlement.

Sentencing for Moreno and Pinilla is scheduled for November 19.

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Harry Cassin is the managing editor of the FCPA Blog.

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