An Austrian man was arrested today in the UK on criminal charges relating to his alleged involvement in a conspiracy to launder hundreds of millions of dollars through the US financial system as part of a scheme to pay out bribes around the world and defrauding the Brazilian government.
Today’s unsealed indictment was previously returned by a federal grand jury in Brooklyn, New York, and charges Peter Weinzierl, 55, and Alexander Waldstein, 73, both Austrians, for their roles in a massive money laundering program involving Odebrecht SA (Odebrecht), a global construction conglomerate based in Brazil. Weinzierl was arrested today in the UK following a US request for provisional arrest. Waldstein is still at large.
Weinzierl was managing director and Waldstein managing director of an Austrian bank, and both were members of the board of directors of an Antiguan bank. According to the indictment, between around 2006 and 2016, Weinzierl and Waldstein conspired with Odebrecht and others to launder money as part of a scheme to defraud the Brazilian tax administration of more than 100 millions of dollars in taxes and to create slush funds used by Odebrecht to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes for the benefit of public officials around the world.
According to the indictment, Weinzierl, Waldstein and their co-conspirators used fraudulent transactions and sham deals to transfer more than $ 170 million from New York bank accounts held in Odebrecht’s name, via the Austrian bank. , to bank accounts of offshore shell companies. secretly controlled by Odebrecht. As part of this program, Odebrecht used slush funds channeled to the offshore shell company’s bank accounts to pay bribes. Odebrecht falsely recorded the hundreds of millions of dollars in international wire transfers sent to the Austrian bank as legitimate business expenses and deducted the fraudulent payments from the overall profits reported in Brazil, thereby reducing his tax debt and evading more than $ 100 million from ‘taxes. . The bank accounts of the Shell companies involved in the scheme and used to pay bribes to foreign officials were held at the Antiguan bank that Weinzierl, Waldstein and their co-conspirators controlled and used to promote the scheme. Weinzierl and Waldstein also had millions of dollars in criminal proceeds from the Bank of Antigua transferred to a brokerage account in the United States to buy U.S. Treasury securities and corporate stocks and bonds on U.S. stock exchanges. In return for their role in the system, Weinzierl and Waldstein received substantial commissions for the benefit of Austrian and anti-guana banks.
On December 21, 2016, Odebrecht pleaded guilty in federal court in Brooklyn to a criminal indictment accusing him of conspiring to violate the anti-corruption provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) for his involvement in the corruption system and money laundering.
Weinzierl and Waldstein are charged with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and two counts of international promotional money laundering. Weinzierl is also charged with one count of participating in a transaction involving criminal property. If found guilty on all counts, Weinzierl and Waldstein would face a maximum sentence of 70 and 60 years in prison, respectively. A Brooklyn Federal District Court judge will determine any sentence after considering U.S. sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicholas L. McQuaid of the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice; Acting US Attorney Mark J. Lesko for the Eastern District of New York; and Deputy Director in Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. of the FBI Field Office in New York made the announcement.
The FBI’s international corruption team in New York is investigating this case.
Prosecutor Michael Culhane Harper of the Fraud Section of the Criminal Division, Prosecutor Michael B. Redmann of the Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section of the Criminal Division and US Deputy Prosecutor Julia Nestor of the Prosecutor’s Office US for the Eastern District of New York is suing the case. The Department of Justice’s Office for International Affairs and the UK authorities provided significant assistance.
The Fraud Section is responsible for investigating and prosecuting all FCPA cases. Additional information on the Department of Justice’s FCPA enforcement efforts can be found at www.justice.gov/criminal/fraud/fcpa.
The Kleptocracy Initiative for Asset Recovery of the Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section of the Criminal Division was established to prosecute money launderers and confiscate the proceeds of foreign official bribery and, where applicable , use these recovered assets for the benefit of those harmed by corruption and office abuse. Individuals with information about possible foreign bribery products located or laundered in the United States should contact federal law enforcement or email [email protected]
An indictment is only an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by a court.