On January 27, 2021, Daniel Comoretto Gomez, a former manager at Venezuela’s state-owned oil company Petróleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA), pleaded guilty in the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering in connection with a scheme to accept bribes in exchange for helping asphalt companies obtain and retain business with PDVSA.
According to the criminal information, between 2011 and 2015, Comoretto and a second PDVSA employee, Hector Nuñez Troyano, took part in a scheme in which they received bribes from Sargeant Marine, Inc. and another unnamed asphalt company, in exchange for assisting those companies in obtaining contracts to purchase asphalt from PDVSA. Under the scheme, these asphalt companies paid a third party agent named David Diaz a commission of approximately 45 cents for every barrel of asphalt purchased from PDVSA. Diaz in turn used a portion of his commission to bribe Comoretto, Nuñez, and additional unnamed bribe recipients. The participants in this scheme concealed these bribe payments by routing the funds through shell companies belonging to Diaz and Nuñez. Comoretto’s sentencing date has not yet been set.
Comoretto’s guilty plea follows Sargeant Marine’s September 20, 2020 guilty plea for conspiracy to violate the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions. As part of its plea, the company admitted to paying millions of dollars in bribes to officials in Ecuador, Brazil, and Venezuela in order to obtain contracts to purchase or sell asphalt, and agreed to pay a criminal fine of $16.6 million.