September 4, 2023

Connecticut oil and gas trader charged with FCPA violations for allegedly bribing Petrobras officials

On August 29, 2023, the Department of Justice announced that a federal grand jury returned a superseding indictment against Connecticut oil and gas trader Gary Oztemel in connection with an alleged scheme to pay bribes to Brazilian officials in exchange for contracts with Petróleo Brasileiro SA – Petrobras (“Petrobras”), a state-owned and state-controlled energy company in Brazil.  Gary Oztemel is reportedly the owner and president of Oil Trade & Transport SA (“OTT”) and the owner of Petro Trade Services Inc. (“Petro Trade”), both of which are located in Connecticut.

According to the superseding indictment, between 2010 and 2018, Gary Oztemel conspired with his brother Glenn Oztemel and Brazil-based intermediary Eduardo Innecco to bribe foreign Petrobras officials to obtain confidential information regarding Petrobras’s fuel oil business and to give OTT and two unnamed Connecticut-based trading companies an improper business advantage in trades with Petrobras.  Gary Oztemel allegedly worked with Glenn Oztemel and Innecco to conceal the scheme by using personal email accounts, fictitious names, and encrypted messaging applications to communicate with co-conspirators.  Gary Oztemel is also accused of using his company, Petro Trade, to receive and conceal proceeds from the scheme.  He has been charged in the superseding indictment with conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and two counts of money laundering for his role in the scheme.

This indictment supersedes a February 2023 indictment against Glenn Oztemel and Innecco, a citizen of Brazil and Italy who worked as an agent for OTT and two Connecticut-based trading companies, for their roles in the alleged bribery and money laundering scheme.  According to the original indictment, Oztemel and Innecco authorized the payment of hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to Brazilian officials, including Brazilian citizen Rodrigo Berkowitz, a trader who worked for Petrobras America Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Petrobras located in Houston, Texas.  Berkowitz, who pleaded guilty to money laundering conspiracy in February 2019, has not yet been sentenced for the crime.

Department of Justice Press Release | Superseding Indictment | Berkowitz Guilty Plea | Berkowitz Information