A Miami-based businessman who pleaded guilty to a single FCPA conspiracy count was sentenced Wednesday to 51 months in federal prison.
Luis Alberto Chacin Haddad, 54, bribed officials at Venezuela’s state-owned electricity company, Corpoelec, in exchange for $60 million in contracts for Florida-based businesses he owned with a co-conspirator.
He had asked the judge to sentence him to “at most” 18 months, in light of various personal characteristics and the circumstances of his crime.
The maximum sentence for conspiracy to violate the FCPA is 60 months.
The government opposed any downward departure from the maximum sentence for Chacin.
Prosecutors said in a sentencing memorandum that although he’s a “decent, devoted family man,” he participated in “a multi-year scheme to pay bribes to foreign officials.”
According to the DOJ,
The nature and circumstances of the offense were serious: the scheme involved high-ranking officials in Venezuela (one of whom was a Minister); the recipients of the corrupt contracts were U.S. companies; proceeds from those contracts were transferred to and between bank accounts in the United States, thereby tainting the U.S. financial system; at least one kickback payment was made from a U.S. bank account; and the defendant and his co-defendant each profited $5.5 million from the scheme.
The DOJ said the bribery conspiracy lasted three years and involved “multiple contracts and multiple kickbacks.”
“The defendant notes that the contracts in question were not ‘sham contracts,'” prosecutors said, “but they were still lucrative enough to earn him and [a co-conspirator] a total profit of $11 million.”
As part of his plea deal in June, Chacin agreed to forfeit $5.5 million.
Chacin said his acceptance of responsibility was “extraordinary.” But the DOJ said he only admitted involvement in the bribery and pleaded guilty after he was arrested on a criminal complaint
Chacin and his co-conspirator lost the first bid they made to Corpoelec. Instead of walking away then, Chacin “knowingly engaged in a scheme to win Corpoelec contracts through bribery,” the DOJ said.
Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga (the first Cuban-American woman appointed as a U.S. federal judge) sentenced Chacin to 51 months in prison and two years of supervised release.
At the end of the 30-minute sentencing hearing Wednesday, Judge Altonaga ordered Chacin to surrender to the U.S. Marshals.
Richard L. Cassin is editor at large of the FCPA Blog.