November 19, 2019

Academic corruption expert arrested on money laundering charges in connection with corruption in public works projects in Venezuela

On November 18, 2019, Bruce Bagley, a Florida resident, was arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering, in violation of 18 USC §§ 1956(a)(1)(B)(i), (a)(2)(B)(i), and 1957(a).  According to the indictment, beginning in November 2017, Bagley began receiving monthly deposits of $200,000 from a bank account in the United Arab Emirates to a bank account opened in the name of a defunct company established by Bagley in 2005.  The indictment alleges that Bagley would withdraw 90% of the deposited funds in the form of a cashier’s check payable to another person, and wire the remaining 10% to a bank account held in Bagley’s name. In a similar pattern, other payments reached the bank account from Switzerland and other origins, and were similarly disbursed, according to the indictment, including $224,000 which Bagley was told by undercover agents had been derived from bribery and public corruption in Venezuela.  The indictment alleges that over the course of these transactions, Bagley believed that the transferred funds represented the proceeds of unlawful activity such as the transportation of stolen goods, bribery of a public official, and the misappropriation of public funds by a public official, connected with public works projects in Venezuela.

The irony of the case has not been lost on the media, which have pointed out that Bagley, a University of Miami professor, is nationally known as a consultant on bribery and corruption in Venezuela.