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Editor: Eric C. Chaffee
Univ. of Toledo College of Law

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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

SEC Charges Traders with Paying Kickbacks to Venezuelan Official

The SEC charged four individuals with ties to Direct Access Partners (DAP), a New York City brokerage firm, in a scheme involving millions of dollars in illicit bribes paid to a high-ranking Venezuelan finance official to secure the bond trading business of a state-owned Venezuelan bank.  According to the SEC's complaint, the global markets group at DAP executed fixed income trades for customers in foreign sovereign debt. DAP Global generated more than $66 million in revenue for DAP from transaction fees on riskless principal trade executions in Venezuelan sovereign or state-sponsored bonds for Banco de Desarrollo Económico y Social de Venezuela (BANDES). A portion of this revenue was illicitly paid to BANDES Vice President of Finance, María de los Ángeles González de Hernandez, who authorized the fraudulent trades.

The SEC's complaint charges the following individuals for the roles in the kickback scheme:

•Tomas Alberto Clarke Bethancourt, who lives in Miami and is an executive vice president at DAP. Known as "Tomas Clarke," he was responsible for executing the fraudulent trades and maintaining spreadsheets tracking the illicit markups and markdowns on those trades.
•Iuri Rodolfo Bethancourt, who lives in Panama and received more than $20 million in fraudulent proceeds from DAP via his Panamanian shell company, which then paid Gonzalez a portion of this amount.
•Jose Alejandro Hurtado, who lives in Miami and served as the intermediary between DAP and Gonzalez. Hurtado was paid more than $6 million in kickbacks disguised as salary payments from DAP, and he remitted some of that money to Gonzalez.
•Haydee Leticia Pabon, who is Hurtado's wife and received approximately $8 million in markups or markdowns on BANDES trades that were funneled to her from DAP in the form of sham finders' fees.

In a parallel action, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York announced criminal charges against Gonzalez as well as Clarke and Hurtado.

 

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