January 9, 2020

FCPA defendant gets four years in prison in Venezuela bribery case

On January 8, 2020, Juan Jose Hernandez Comerma was sentenced to four years in prison for his role in a bribery scheme involving Venezuela’s state-owned energy company, Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. (PdVSA).  Hernandez had pleaded guilty in January 2017 to one count of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA.  As part of his sentence, Hernandez was also ordered to pay a fine of $127,000 and forfeit $3 million.

According to Hernandez’s admissions, he and two other businessmen conspired to pay bribes in the form of travel and entertainment, as well as offering bribes based on a percentage of contracts the government officials helped his co-conspirator obtain.  As a result, the companies of Hernandez’s co-conspirators were allowed to bid for and receive lucrative contracts from PdVSA.  

Hernandez is the sixth defendant to be sentenced in the case.  His co-conspirators, Abraham Jose Shiera Bastidas and Roberto Enrique Rincon Fernandez, have pleaded guilty but have not yet been sentenced.  As part of its ongoing investigation into this and related conduct, the US Department of Justice has brought charges against 25 individuals, 19 of whom have pleaded guilty.

DOJ press release