July 2, 2019

Two indicted for money laundering and conspiring to bribe PetroEcuador officials

In an indictment filed on May 9, 2019 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Armengol Alfonso Cevallos Diaz and Jose Melquiades Cisneros Alarcon were charged with conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and nine counts of money laundering.  The DOJ did not publicize the indictment, and it was not widely reported until early July. 

Cevallos and Cisneros are Ecuadorian citizens who were residing in Miami, Florida.  They are accused of paying bribes to officials in Ecuador’s state-owned oil company, Empresa Publica de Hidrocarburos del Ecuador (PetroEcuador), in order to obtain and retain contracts from PetroEcuador.  According to the indictment, Cevallos and Cisneros paid approximately $6 million in bribes, and also transferred ownership of real estate to a PetroEcuador employee and his family.  In addition to conspiracy to violate the FCPA, the defendants are charged with conspiring to launder money and substantive counts of money laundering for the bribe payments and real estate purchases.  The indictment also seeks the forfeiture of property derived from the bribery conspiracy.

Thus far, at least five individuals have pleaded guilty to charges related to the bribery of PetroEcuador employees.