A South Florida resident was arrested yesterday in Miami for his alleged role in a scheme to bribe Venezuelan officials and laundering money to obtain contracts from Venezuela’s state and state-controlled energy company Petróleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA), and Venezuela’s state and state-controlled food company who bought groceries for Venezuela, Corporación de Abastecimiento y Servicios Agrícola (CASA).
According to court documents, Naman Wakil, 59, of Miami, a Syrian national and legal permanent resident in the US from 2010 through at least September 2017, conspired with others to seek bribes to CASA officials and officials in joint ventures between PDVSA and. various foreign companies in Venezuela’s oil-rich Orinoco belt. Wakil allegedly paid these bribes to obtain contracts to sell food to CASA for at least $ 250 million and to do business with the PDVSA joint ventures, including receiving grossly inflated contracts (worth at least $ 30 million) to provide goods and services for the PDVSA joint ventures. Wakil laundered funds related to the bribery program to and from bank accounts in South Florida, including the purchase of 10 South Florida residential units, a $ 3.5 million airplane and a $ 1.5 million yacht. Wakil also used part of the funds to make payments to or for the benefit of Venezuelan officials.
Wakil is charged with three counts of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), violate the FCPA, conspiracy to commit money laundering, international advertising money laundering, and involvement in criminally derived property transactions. If convicted, Wakil faces a maximum sentence of 80 years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine each sentence based on U.S. sentencing guidelines and other legal factors.
Wakil made his first appearance in federal court at 1:30 p.m. today before US judge Lauren Louis in Miami.
Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Department of Justice’s Department of Criminal Investigation, Acting U.S. Attorney Juan Antonio Gonzalez for the Southern District of Florida, Special Agent in charge Anthony Salisbury of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Miami Field Office, and Acting Special Agent in charge Tyler R. Hatcher of the IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Miami Field Office made the announcement.
Trial Attorney Alexander Kramer of the Department of Justice Fraud and U.S. Assistant Attorney Michael Berger of the Southern District of Florida are pursuing the case.
The criminal fraud department is responsible for investigating and prosecuting all FCPA matters. For more information on the Department of Justice’s FCPA enforcement efforts, please visit www.justice.gov/criminal/fraud/fcpa.
An indictment is just an accusation, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.