April 7, 2021

Canadian national pleads guilty to money laundering charge in Ecuador bribery case

On April 6, 2021, Raymond Kohut, reportedly a former employee of Switzerland-based energy trader Gunvor Group Ltd., pleaded guilty in the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering for his role in a bribery and money laundering scheme involving officials at PetroEcuador, Ecuador’s state-owned oil company.

According to the Information, between 2012 and August 2020, together with accomplices, Kohut, a Canadian national residing in Panama and the Bahamas, paid $22 million in bribes to secure lucrative PetroEcuador contracts for certain unnamed businesses. The conspirators attempted to conceal the bribery and money laundering scheme by using code names in correspondence, personal email accounts, and sham consulting agreements and invoices to disguise the improper payments, which were ultimately sent to domestic and offshore bank accounts held by shell companies for the benefit of the Ecuadorian officials.  Many of these payments were allegedly processed through correspondent bank accounts in New York, and multiple meetings to discuss contract terms and arrange bribe payments were held in the US.

As part of his plea agreement, Kohut has agreed to forfeit $2.2 million. 

Information | Order of Forfeiture | Docket Order