May 21, 2023

Federal court dismisses money laundering and FCPA charges against Murta once again

A federal judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas recently dismissed all charges against Paulo Jorge Da Costa Casqueiro Murta (“Murta”), a citizen of Portugal and Switzerland, after finding that the US government violated the Speedy Trial Act and his Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial.  US prosecutors charged Murta in 2019, with money laundering charges and conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) for his role in an international bribery scheme involving the payment and laundering of bribe payments for certain Venezuelan officials between 2011 and 2013.  More specifically, Murta and his co-defendant Daisy Teresa Rafoi Bleuler (“Rafoi-Bleuler”) were accused of setting up a complex web of bank accounts to launder bribe payments intended for certain employees and officials associated with Petroleos de Venezuela SA (“PDVSA”), Venezuela’s state-owned and state-controlled oil company.  In addition to dismissing the charges in the indictment, the court also granted Murta’s motion to suppress statements that he made to federal agents and Portuguese authorities, holding that his interview was coercive and his participation was involuntary under Portuguese law, Miranda and the due process clause of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.

This is the second time that the government’s charges have been dismissed against Murta.  In July 2022,  the Southern District of Texas granted Murta’s motion to dismiss the superseding indictment against him for lack of jurisdiction, a statute of limitations violation, failure to provide a Miranda warning, and unconstitutional vagueness of the term “agent” in the FCPA – charges that the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit decided to reinstate in February 2023.

On May 18, 2023, in addition to granting Murta’s motions to dismiss and suppress, the court also granted the government’s motion to stay the dismissal for seven days to enable federal prosecutors to file Memorandum Opinion and Order on the Motion to Dismiss or Motion to Suppress.

Order of Dismissal | Order Granting Motion to Suppress | Motion to Stay Dismissal | Order Granting Motion to Stay | Court’s Omnibus Memo Addressing Murta Motion to Dismiss (July 2022)Superseding Indictment (April 2019)