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Bill Waite Contributing Editor

Shruti J. Shah Contributing Editor

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FCPA Blog Daily News

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Monday
May212018

Colombia anti-corruption chief extradited to U.S. to face bribery-related charges

Luis Gustavo Moreno Rivera. Photo courtesy of the Office of the Colombian Attorney GeneralColombia's top anti-corruption prosecutor was extradited to the United States Friday to face charges connected to bribes he allegedly took to subvert investigations in the U.S. and Colombia.

Luis Gustavo Moreno Rivera, 36, the former National Director of Anti-Corruption in Colombia, was indicted in August last year in federal court in Miami.

Also charged was Leonardo Pinilla Gomez, 31, a lawyer practicing in Colombia.

They each face one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, two counts of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to launder money in order to promote foreign bribery, and two counts of substantive money laundering.

Moreno and Pinilla were arrested in Colombia last year on an Interpol Red Notice. 

Pinilla was arraigned Friday in Miami.

Moreno 's arraignment is scheduled for May 30.

They face a maximum of 20 years in prison for each count they're convicted on.

DEA agents in Miami recorded Moreno allegedly agreeing to take bribes from a witness who was cooperating with U.S. authorities.

The witness is a former Colombian governor, Alejandro Lyons Muskus of Córdoba. He was charged last year in Colombia with embezzlement.

Lyons' identity and role in the case were confirmed last year by the office of Colombia's Attorney General, the New York Times said.

Lyons' undercover cooperation led to Moreno's indictment.

U.S. prosecutors said Moreno agreed in June 2017 to take $132,000 in cash from Lyons. In return, Moreno agreed to discredit a witnesses in a case against Lyons before the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.

The DOJ said $100 bills from some of the money Lyons paid to Moreno and Pinilla were found on Moreno and his family when they boarded a flight from Miami back to Bogota.

According to the DOJ, "Recorded conversations revealed that Moreno and Pinilla discussed Moreno’s ability to control the investigation into [Lyons] and that Moreno could inundate his prosecutors with work so that they would be unable to focus on the [Lyons’] investigation."

In a statement Friday, the DOJ commended the Attorney General of Colombia and the AG's investigative unit "for their cooperative efforts" in the investigation.

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Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog.