Venezuelan Billionaire Charged; Money Laundering Conspiracy
Venezuelan billionaire charged; former Venezuelan national treasurer and former owner of Dominican Republic bank both plead guilty in money laundering conspiracy involving $1 billion in bribes
WASHINGTON – A Venezuelan billionaire, who owns the Globovision news network, was charged in an indictment unsealed Monday for his role in a billion-dollar currency exchange and money laundering scheme. Two others, a former Venezuelan national treasurer and a former owner of the Banco Peravia bank in the Dominican Republic, each pleaded guilty in proceedings unsealed Tuesday for their roles in this scheme.
This investigation was conducted by the following agencies: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Houston, HSI Miami, HSI Boston, FBI Miami, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) Washington, D.C.
These charges and guilty pleas were announced by the following agency heads: Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Ariana Fajardo Orshan of the Southern District of Florida, HSI Houston Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Mark Dawson, HSI Miami SAC Mark Selby, FBI Miami SAC George L. Piro, HSI Boston SAC Peter C. Fitzhugh, and FDIC D.C. Inspector General Jay N. Lerner.
Raul Gorrin Belisario, 50, a Venezuelan citizen with a residence in Miami, Florida, was charged in an indictment filed, Aug. 16, 2017, in the Southern District of Florida with one count of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and nine counts of money laundering. Former Venezuelan National Treasurer Alejandro Andrade Cedeno, 54, a Venezuelan citizen residing in Wellington, Florida, pleaded guilty under seal, Dec. 22, 2017, to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. Gabriel Arturo Jimenez Aray, 50, a Venezuelan citizen residing in Chicago, Illinois, and former owner of the Banco Peravia bank, pleaded guilty under seal, March 20, 2018, in the Southern District of Florida to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.
The indictment alleges that Gorrin Belisario paid millions of dollars in bribes to two high-level Venezuelan officials, including Andrade, to secure the rights to conduct foreign currency exchange transactions at favorable rates for the Venezuelan government. In addition to wiring money to, and for, the officials, Gorrin Belisario allegedly purchased and paid expenses for them related to private jets, yachts, homes, champion horses, high-end watches and a fashion line. To conceal the bribery payments, Gorrin Belisario made payments through multiple shell companies. Gorrin Belisario allegedly partnered with Jimenez to acquire Banco Peravia, a bank in the Dominican Republic, to launder bribes paid to Venezuelan officials and proceeds of the scheme.
As part of his guilty plea, Andrade admitted that he received more than $1 billion in bribes from Gorrin Belisario and other co-conspirators in exchange for using his position as Venezuelan national treasurer to select them to conduct currency exchange transactions for the Venezuelan government. As part of his plea agreement, Andrade agreed to a forfeiture money judgment of $1 billion and forfeiture of all assets involved in the corrupt scheme, including real estate, vehicles, horses, watches, aircraft and bank accounts. His sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 27.
As part of his guilty plea, Jimenez admitted that, as part of the scheme, he conspired with Gorrin Belisario and others to acquire Banco Peravia, through which he helped launder bribe money and scheme proceeds. His sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 29.
This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Vanessa Sisti Snyder, Paul A. Hayden and John-Alex Romano of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael B. Nadler and Nalina Sombuntham of the Southern District of Florida’s Criminal Division. The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs provided significant assistance in this matter. The Policía Nacional (Spanish National Police) also provided significant assistance.
The charges in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.