A former procurement officer at Venezuela’s state-owned energy company pleaded guilty Tuesday for his role in an international kickback scheme.
Ivan Alexis Guedez, 47, of Katy, Texas, pleaded guilty in federal court in Houston to one count of conspiracy to launder money.
The scheme involved owners of U.S.-based companies paying bribes to Venezeulan government officials in exchange for business with Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA).
They were also hoping for faster payments of invoices, the DOJ said.
According to Guedez’s plea, he agreed with other PDVSA officials and employees of a Miami-based PDVSA supplier to pay bribes for business to be funneled to the supplier.
The co-conspirators who worked for the PDVSA supplier also received kickbacks.
Guedez and his co-conspirators concealed the corrupt payments by using fake email addresses to communicate, creating false invoices, and directing bribe payments to a Swiss bank account belonging to a shell company.
Funds from the Swiss account were then distributed to the co-conspirators, the DOJ said.
Including Guedez, the DOJ has announced the guilty pleas of 15 individuals in connection with the investigation into PDVSA bribery.
On Monday, a former executive at Swiss-bank Julius Baer was sentenced to ten years in prison for his role in a billion-dollar scheme to launder money embezzled from PDVSA.
As part of Guedez’s plea deal, he agreed to forfeit the proceeds of his criminal activity.
His sentencing is scheduled for February 20, 2019 in Houston.
Harry Cassin is the managing editor of the FCPA Blog.