January 23, 2020

US secures additional guilty plea in PetroEcuador bribery investigation

On January 23, 2020, Armengol Alfonso Cevallos Diaz, an Ecuadorian businessman residing in Florida, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and conspiracy to commit money laundering.  Cevallos admitted to conspiring with others to pay $4.4 million in bribes to officials of the Ecuadorian state-owned oil company, Empresa Pública de Hidrocarburos del Ecuador (PetroEcuador) in order to obtain and retain business, and to conspiring to launder funds through Miami bank accounts, shell companies and real estate purchases between 2012 and 2015.  Cevallos is the twelfth individual to plead guilty in connection with the PetroEcuador bribery scheme.  He will be sentenced in April 2020.

Cevallos’ co-defendant, Jose Melquiades Cisneros Alarcon, pleaded guilty in August 2019 to one count of conspiracy to launder money.  Cisneros Alarcon admitted to opening a shell company and bank account in Florida to launder bribe money paid to PetroEcuador officials and to disguise the source and ownership of the proceeds of the bribery scheme.  Cisneros Alarcon is scheduled to be sentenced on February 25, 2020.

DOJ press release