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« China's feared ex-security chief facing graft investigation | Main | China ‘grinning official’ pleads guilty to graft »

Third guilty plea in broker-dealer case

The DOJ said Friday another broker from Direct Access Partners pleaded guilty to bribing foreign officials in Venezuela in exchange for bond trading work.

Jose Alejandro Hurtado pleaded guilty in New York federal court to six counts of conspiring to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, to violate the Travel Act, and to commit money laundering, as well as substantive counts of the offenses.

On Thursday, two other brokers from Direct Access, Ernesto Lujan and Tomas Alberto Clarke Bethancourt, pleaded guilty to the same charges.

The three defendants admitted paying at least $5 million in bribes to María de los Ángeles González de Hernandez, a vice president at Banco de Desarrollo Economico y Social de Venezuela (BANDES).

In return for bribes from 2008 to 2010, she directed bond trading work to Direct Access and approved fraudulent trades that generated more than $60 million in trading commissions.

González was charged in May with Travel Act conspiracy and substantive offenses, and two money laundering-related counts.

(The charges against González are merely accusations, and she is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.)

The DOJ said in a statement Friday a second state-owned bank in Venezuela, Banfoandes, was also involved.

From 2008 through mid-2009, the DOJ said, Lujan, Clarke, and Hurtado bribed an official at Banfoandes who awarded trading business to them.

Sentencing for Lujan, 50, and Clarke, 43, is scheduled for February 11, 2014.

Hurtado, 38, is scheduled to be sentenced on March 6, 2014.

They face up to five years in prison on the four FCPA and Travel Act-related counts and up to 20 years on the two money laundering conspiracy and substantive counts.


Richard L. Cassin is the Publisher and Editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.