On October 21, 2021, an indictment was unsealed in the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida charging Alvaro Pulido Vargas, Jose Gregorio Vielma-Mora, Emmanuel Enrique Rubio Gonzalez, Carlos Rolando Lizcano Manrique, and Ana Guillermo Luis with laundering the proceeds of a bribery scheme involving contracts obtained through the Comité Local de Abastecimiento y Producción (CLAP) program, a Venezuelan government program for distributing food and medicine.
According to the indictment, which a federal grand jury returned on October 7, 2021, Pulido, Rubio, Guilermo, Lizcano, and others controlled several companies that through bribery obtained contracts under the CLAP program with Venezuelan state-owned entities. The indictment alleges that these contracts charged inflated prices the proceeds of which were used to pay bribes to government officials and unjustly enrich the conspirators. Vielma-Mora, one of the conspirators, was a government official who received bribes as part of the conspiracy and improperly used his position to assist in the award of contracts to the other co-conspirators. This included contracts with the Comercializadora de Bienes Y Servicios Del Estado Tachira (COBISERTA), which was overseen by Vielma-Mora in his role as governor of the Venezuelan state of Tachira. The indictment alleges that Vielma-Mora and an unnamed co-conspirator received over $17 million in exchange for Vielma-Mora’s assistance and influence in awarding the contracts.
The improper payments were transferred through a web of companies and associated bank accounts in several countries, including Antigua, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States. Additional transactions involving other Venezuelan state-controlled entities and other foreign officials are detailed in the indictment. Altogether, the indictment lists over $6.3 million alleged to have been transferred into or out of the United States in furtherance of felony violations of the anti-bribery provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
Each of the defendants has been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and four counts of money laundering.