March 24, 2021

Former Ecuadorian official sentenced to 51 months in prison for laundering bribe money

On March 23, 2021, Juan Ribas Domenech, an Ecuadorian and Italian national, was sentenced in US District Court for the Southern District of Florida to 51 months in prison after pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering for his role in a scheme to launder bribe money.  Ribas allegedly received the improper payments in exchange for helping three UK reinsurance companies win and retain reinsurance contracts with Seguros Sucre SA, Ecuador’s state-owned and controlled surety company.

According to court documents, between 2013 and 2017, Ribas was the Chairman of the Board of Seguros Sucre, and an advisor to the President of Ecuador.  As Chairman of Seguros Sucre, Ribas had authority over the awarding of contracts.  He allegedly accepted over $5 million in bribes — arranged by co-conspirators Roberto Heinert, Jose Vicente Gomez Aviles, and Felipe Moncaleano Botero — in exchange for granting contracts to three UK-based reinsurance brokers.  The factual proffer details a scheme in which Heinert, Gomez and Moncaleano were responsible for disguising Ribas’ bribe payments as commissions laundered through multiple intermediary companies and as private securities purchases, with at least $1 million laundered through US bank accounts.

Heinert and Gomez, co-owners of the Panama-based intermediary through which the commission payments were transferred, and Moncaleano, the CEO of a Colombia-based subsidiary of a UK reinsurance firm, were all charged in 2020 for their involvement in the laundering scheme.  Moncaleano pleaded guilty to conspiracy to launder funds and was sentenced in January 2021 to 72 months in prison with a $50,000 fine.  Gomez, who also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to launder funds, is scheduled to be sentenced on March 26, 2021.

Department of Justice Press Release | Factual Proffer (Ribas) | Judgment (Ribas) | Docket Notice of Sentencing Hearing (Gomez)