Two businessmen pleaded guilty in federal court in Miami to bribing a former Venezuela government minister and another official at the state-owned electric utility in exchange for $60 million in contracts for their Florida-based businesses.
Luis Alberto Chacin Haddad, 54, of Miami, and Jesus Ramon Veroes, 69, of Venezuela, each pleaded guilty in federal court on June 24 to one count of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
They’re scheduled to be sentenced on September 4.
Under the terms of their plea deals, Veroes and Chacin will each forfeit at least $5.5 million in profits they made from the corrupt contracts, as well as real estate in the Miami area.
The two Venezuela officials who Veroes and Chacin bribed were also indicted Thursday, the DOJ said.
Luis Alfredo Motta Dominguez (Motta), 60, was until April this year the minister of electrical energy and head of the state-owned electricity company, Corporación Eléctrica Nacional, S.A. (Corpoelec).
Eustiquio Jose Lugo Gomez (Lugo), 55, was the procurement director at Corpoelec.
Motta and Lugo live in Venezuela.
They were charged in an eight-count indictment filed in federal court in Miami with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and seven counts of money laundering.
According to the indictment, Motta and Lugo used bank accounts in Florida from 2016 to 2018 to launder bribe money.
On Thursday Motta and Lugo were also sanctioned by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).
“Rather than use their official positions to serve the Venezuelan people, Motta and Lugo illegally enriched themselves and contributed to the electricity crisis,” a Treasury statement said.
Motta was fired from his minister’s post after multiple nationwide blackouts, including one in March that lasted two weeks.
Venezuela has suffered thousands of power outages this year due in part to “rampant corruption,” the Treasury Department said.
OFAC sanctions generally prohibit all business dealings with blocked persons and freeze any money or property they have under U.S. jurisdiction.
Richard L. Cassin is editor at large of the FCPA Blog.