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Friday
Dec182015

Hurtado jailed three years in Direct Access Partners bribe case

A Miami-based broker from Direct Access Partners was sentenced to three years in prison Tuesday for being the middleman in a scheme to bribe a Venezuela state bank official in exchange for bond trading work.

Jose Alejandro Hurtado, 40, was also ordered to forfeit nearly $11.9 million by federal judge Denise Cote in Manhattan.

Hurtado pleaded guilty in 2013 to conspiracy and substantive violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the Travel Act, and money laundering laws.

Earlier this month, Tomas Clarke, 46, a former senior vice president at New York-based Direct Access Partners who worked in the firm's Miami office, was sentenced to two years in prison and ordered to forfeit nearly $5.8 million.

Ernesto Lujan, 52, a former managing partner of Direct Access Partners in charge of its Miami office, was also sentenced to two years in prison and ordered to forfeit $18.5 million.

In March, DAP's former CEO and its managing director were each sentenced to four years in prison.

Benito Chinea, 48, and Joseph DeMeneses, 45, pleaded guilty in December last year to one count of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the Travel Act. Chinea forfeited $3.6 and DeMeneses forfeited nearly $2.7.

The defendants admitted in guilty pleas to paying at least $5 million in bribes to María de los Ángeles González de Hernandez, a vice president at state-owned Banco de Desarrollo Economico y Social de Venezuela (Bandes).

In return for bribes from 2008 to 2012, González directed bond trading work to Direct Access Partners and approved fraudulent round-trip trades.

She pleaded guilty in late 2013 to conspiracy to violate the Travel Act and commit money laundering, as well as two substantive counts of the offenses.

González is scheduled to be sentenced on January 15.

Hurtado introduced González to Direct Access Partners. He acted as the "principal middleman" and made bribe payments to her, directly and indirectly, the DOJ said. He collected a share of the commissions from the Bandes trades.

Direct Access Partners, an SEC registered broker-dealer, generated more than $60 million in revenue from the  Bandes trading business.

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Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.

Reader Comments (2)

I am trying to understand why these people all pleaded guilty, and received such heavy sentences. Would they not have been better off to fight than accept a plea with such a heavy penalty?

Did they expect that if they defended, their sentences would have been much heavier?
December 19, 2015 | Unregistered Commenteralan franklin
Yes, thats exactly it. There was so much evidence they had no way to fight it, and if they tried ..the outcome would have been Far worse that what they got
December 21, 2015 | Unregistered Commentera follower of the case
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