Monday, February 8, 2021
Businessman Sentenced for Foreign Bribery and Money Laundering Scheme Involving PetroEcuador Officials
An Ecuadorian businessman living in Miami was sentenced today to 35 months in prison for his role in a $4.4 million bribery and money laundering scheme that funneled bribes to then-public officials of Empresa Pública de Hidrocarburos del Ecuador (PetroEcuador), the state-owned and state-controlled oil company of Ecuador.
Nicholas L. McQuaid, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Miami Field Office made the announcement.
According to his plea, Armengol Alfonso Cevallos Diaz, 58, admitted that from 2012 through 2015 he conspired to solicit, intermediate, and pay bribes of $4.4 million from an oil services company and companies associated with or controlled by Cevallos to PetroEcuador officials by using U.S.-based companies and U.S.-based bank accounts in order to obtain and retain business from PetroEcuador. Cevallos also admitted to conspiring to conceal and promote the bribe scheme by laundering the funds through Miami-based shell companies and bank accounts that were used to acquire properties in the Miami area for the benefit of certain PetroEcuador officials.
Cevallos is the latest individual to be sentenced in the Justice Department’s ongoing investigation into bribery and money laundering involving PetroEcuador. The individuals prosecuted include former PetroEcuador officials who received and concealed the bribe payments, businessmen and contractors who paid the bribes to obtain contracts from PetroEcuador, and intermediaries who enabled and facilitated the bribery through the use of U.S. and offshore companies and bank accounts.
The FBI’s International Corruption Squad in Miami is investigating the case.
Trial Attorneys Jonathan Robell and Katherine Raut of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Trial Attorney Randall Warden of the Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section (MLARS) prosecuted the case.
IRS-Criminal Investigation, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, the U.S. Marshals Service and the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs provided significant assistance in this case, as have public authorities in, among other countries, Ecuador and Panama.
MLARS’s Bank Integrity Unit investigates and prosecutes banks and other financial institutions, including their officers, managers, and employees, whose actions threaten the integrity of the individual institution or the wider financial system.