On November 14, 2019, José Raúl de la Torre Prado pleaded guilty in the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida to conspiracy to launder money. According to his proffer, de la Torre advised Ecuador’s state-owned oil company Empresa Pûblica de Hidrocarburos deI Ecuador (PetroEcuador) between 2018 and 2019. During that time, de la Torre conspired with PetroEcuador officials to receive millions of dollars in bribes from a third party oil services company in exchange for awarding that company contracts with PetroEcuador. De la Torre solicited approximately $3.15 million in improper payments from an executive at the oil services company, and conspired to conceal the source of these proceeds by laundering them through third-party bank accounts in the United States. De la Torres personally received $32,508.97 in luxury items and cash from the oil services company, which he agreed to forfeit as part of his guilty plea.
This conviction follows the October 8, 2019 guilty plea of Roberto Barrera, de la Torres’ co-defendant and co-conspirator, who also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to launder money based on the same underlying facts. According to his proffer, Barrera also participated in the scheme to receive millions of dollars in bribes from this oil services company. Barrera personally received $150,000, which was sent by an oil services company executive to a Florida bank account at Barrera’s direction.
Co-conspirators de la Torres and Barrera are the ninth and eleventh defendants to plead guilty in the US for their involvement in PetroEcuador bribery. Frank Chatburn Ripalda, on October 11, 2019, was the tenth.