The federal government will seize two Miami properties tied to an alleged money laundering and bribery scheme involving Venezuelan officials and the country’s state-run electricity company, Corporación Eléctrica Nacional, also known as Corpoelec.
The forfeitures follow the guilty pleas of Jesus Ramon Veroes and Luis Alberto Chacin Haddad to one count of conspiracy to violate provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Veroes and Chacin, Venezuelan businessman, are scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 4.
According to admissions they made in connection with their guilty pleas, Veroes and Chacin, beginning in 2016, bribed officials at Corpoelec in exchange for more than $60 million of procurement contracts awarded to Florida-based companies to purchase transformers, generators, forklift trucks and light bulbs.
According to the charges, a substantial portion of the proceeds from the corrupt contracts was laundered through U.S. financial institutions using bank accounts located in the Southern District of Florida.
As part of their plea agreements, both Veroes and Chacin will be required to forfeit at least $5.5 million in profits, and properties they each owned in Miami-Dade County.
That includes a three-bedroom, four-bathroom condo at the Bristol in Brickell. The 2,600-square-foot condo, unit 1001, sold to Brickell Miami 1001 LLC in 2017 for $1.45 million. Chacin controls the LLC.
Records show that Veroes, through Oasis 3420 LLC, paid $1 million in June 2017 for the four-bedroom, 3,448-square-foot house at 3420 Northwest 84th Avenue. The modern home, built in 2015, is in the Oasis Park Square development, near CityPlace Doral. That property will also be forfeited to the U.S. government.
In connection with the Corpoelec bribery scheme, Former Venezuelan Minister of Electrical Energy Luis Alfredo Motta Dominguez, 60, and Eustiquio Jose Lugo Gomez, 55, a former officer at Corpoelec, were charged with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and seven counts of money laundering, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.
Venezuela’s president, Nicolas Maduro, removed Motta Dominguez, who is also a former president of Corpoelec, from his position as the electrical energy minister in April, Univision reported.
The government has increasingly been cracking down on foreign corruption and money laundering in South Florida.
In a separate money laundering case involving former Venezuelan offices, the U.S. recently sold a Wellington home it had seized that belonged to Alejandro Andrade, a former Venezuelan treasurer and convicted money launderer. Andrade admitted in a guilty plea that he received over $1 billion worth of bribes from his co-conspirator, Venezuelan TV mogul Raul Gorrín, and other co-conspirators in exchange for allowing them to tap into Venezuela’s special fixed currency exchange rate, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Earlier this year, the FBI announced it opened a Miami task force to concentrate on international corruption in South America.