International Financial Law Prof Blog

Editor: William Byrnes
Texas A&M University
School of Law

Friday, September 25, 2020

Oil Trader Indicted in International Bribery and Money Laundering Conspiracy Involving Corrupt Payments to Ecuadorian Officials

A federal grand jury in the Eastern District of New York returned an indictment 22 Sept 2020 against a trader at the U.S. subsidiary of a multinational oil distributor and trading company (Trading Company), for his alleged participation in a five-year international bribery and money laundering scheme involving corrupt payments to Ecuadorian officials. 

Acting Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt, Acting U.S. Attorney Seth D. DuCharme for the Eastern District of New York, and Special Agent in Charge George L. Piro of the FBI’s Miami Field Office made the announcement.

The two-count indictment charges Javier Aguilar, 46, a citizen of Mexico and resident of the United States, with conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and conspiracy to commit money laundering. 

As alleged in court documents, including the criminal complaint that was unsealed today, between approximately 2015 and July 2020, Aguilar and others participated in a conspiracy to pay and conceal bribes to then-Ecuadorian officials, including at Empresa Publica de Hidrocarburos del Ecuador (Petroecuador) in order to obtain and retain business for Trading Company, in particular, a $300 million contract to purchase fuel oil that was awarded to a state-owned entity for the benefit of Trading Company.   

To promote the bribery scheme and conceal its proceeds, Aguilar and his co-conspirators allegedly agreed to use sham consulting agreements between bribe paying intermediaries and offshore shell companies, into whose accounts Trading Company paid funds while knowing that they would be used to pay bribes to the Ecuadorian government officials. 

According to the allegations, during the scheme, Aguilar and his co-conspirators caused the payment of approximately $870,000 in bribes that they had promised to then-Ecuadorian officials on behalf of Trading Company.

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