A South Florida resident was arrested in Miami yesterday on charges related to his alleged role in a scheme to bribe Venezuelan officials and launder funds to secure contracts from the state-controlled Venezuelan energy company , Petróleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA), and The state-owned and controlled Venezuelan food company that purchased food for Venezuela, Corporación de Abastecimiento y Servicios Agrícola (CASA).
According to court documents, from 2010 to at least September 2017, Naman Wakil, 59, of Miami, a Syrian national and lawful permanent resident of the United States, allegedly conspired with others to pay bribes to CASA officials and to those responsible for joint ventures between PDVSA and various foreign companies in the rich Orinoco oil belt in Venezuela. Wakil allegedly paid these bribes to secure at least $ 250 million in contracts to sell food to CASA and do business with PDVSA joint ventures, including securing heavily inflated contracts (worth at minus $ 30 million) to provide goods and services to the PDVSA joint ventures. Wakil laundered funds related to the bribery scheme to and from bank accounts in South Florida and bought 10 apartments in South Florida, a $ 3.5 million plane and a yacht. $ 1.5 million, among others. Wakil also used part of the funds to make payments to or benefit from Venezuelan officials.
Wakil is charged with Conspiracy to Violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), Violation of the FCPA, Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering, Money Laundering international promotional purposes and three counts of participation in transactions involving property of criminal origin. If found guilty, Wakil faces a maximum sentence of 80 years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account US sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.
Wakil first appeared in federal court today at 1:30 p.m. before U.S. investigating judge Lauren Louis in Miami.
Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, Acting U.S. Attorney Juan Antonio Gonzalez for the South Florida District, Special Agent in Charge Anthony Salisbury of the Miami Field Office Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and Acting Special Agent Officer-in-Charge Tyler R. Hatcher of the Miami Field Office for IRS Criminal Investigations (IRS-CI) made the announcement.
Attorney General Alexander Kramer of the Justice Department’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Berger of the Southern District of Florida are continuing the case.
The Fraud Section of the Criminal Division is responsible for investigating and prosecuting all matters relating to the FCPA. Additional information on the Department of Justice’s FCPA enforcement efforts can be found at www.justice.gov/criminal/fraud/fcpa.
An indictment is only an allegation, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in court.