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Former Colombia anti-corruption chief jailed four years for bribery

The former Colombian National Director of Anti-Corruption was sentenced Wednesday to four years in prison after a DEA sting in Miami caught him soliciting a $132,000 bribe to undermine an investigation into a local politician.

Luis Gustavo Moreno Rivera, 37, pleaded guilty in August to charges that he conspired to launder money in order to promote foreign bribery.

Moreno faced up to nine years in prison under the federal sentencing guidelines. But U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro said she considered that Moreno had already been sentenced to five years in Colombia for extortion.

“I made a bad decision in my life, and I am very repentant. There is no worse punishment than the embarrassment I feel in the bottom of my heart,” Moreno told the court earlier. 

Leonardo Pinilla Gomez, 31, a Colombian lawyer, also pleaded guilty last year.

Moreno and Pinilla were arrested in Colombia in 2017 on an Interpol Red Notice and extradited to the United States in May 2018.

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 at a Miami-Dade shopping mall were found on Moreno and his family when they boarded a flight from Miami back to Bogota.

Lyons wore a wire when he met with Moreno in Miami.

Recorded conversations revealed that Moreno planned to “inundate his prosecutors” with work so they couldn’t focus on the Lyons investigation, the DOJ said.

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Harry Cassin is the managing editor of the FCPA Blog.

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