Luis Motta Domínguez

Luis Motta Domínguez

 

https://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/venezuela/article232049892.html

 

U.S. prosecutors filed money-laundering charges Thursday against Venezuela’s former minister of electricity, Luis Motta Dominguez, and his former deputy minister of finance and investments, Eustiquio Jose Lugo Gomez.

Motta and Lugo were also sanctioned by the Treasury Department, which added them to the black list maintained by the Office of Foreign Assets Controls.

The two senior officials of the Nicolás Maduro regime, who were in charge as the nation’s electricity system began its collapse, were charged by prosecutors in the Southern District of Florida after two businessmen pleaded guilty to bribing Venezuelan government employees in the electricity sector.

The prosecutors accuse Motta and Lugo of conspiring with others to launder the bribes they received, using banks in Florida.

“Motta and Lugo granted three companies based in Florida more than $60 milllion in contracts for acquisitions by [the state-owned] Corpoelec in exchange for bribes paid to them for their own benefit,” according to the charges.

The Treasury Department said the corruption by the two men explains part of the electrical problems lashing the South American country.

“Venezuelans have suffered more than 23,860 interruptions of the electric service this year due to the corruption and bad administration by Nicolas Maduro and the people around him. The corruption contributed directly to the deterioration and collapse of the electricity system in Venezuela,” the Treasury Department said in a statement.

The Treasury sanctions bar all persons and companies from doing business with people on the black list, and essentially freeze any funds they may have under U.S. jurisdiction.

The charges against Motta and Lugo were filed after two businessmen pleaded guilty earlier this week to conspiring to violate the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act as part of their dealings with Corpoelec.

Jesus Ramon Veroes, a Venezuelan, and Luis Alberto Chacin Haddad, a Miami resident, pleaded guilty Monday before U.S. District Judge Cecilia Altonaga to charges of participating in a conspiracy to violate several parts of the FCPA. They are scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 4.

As part of their guilty pleas, Veroes and Haddad admitted they had agreed with other co-conspirators to bribe officials at Corpoelec in exchange for purchase orders to companies based in Florida.

They also promised to turn over to U.S. officials at least $5.5 million and surrender real estate they own in the Miami area.

Motta, a major general in the National Guard, was fired by Maduro in April, after Venezuela suffered a series of power blackouts, including one that lasted almost two weeks. His tenure at Corpoelec was marked by the gradual collapse of the country’s power generating and transmission systems.

Venezuelans today live under a program of electricity rationing, with little hope for relief any time soon because the government lacks the resources required for the necessary maintenance.

Most experts say the electricity crisis in Venezuela was generated by the lack of spending on maintaining and expanding the power grid, even though the Hugo Chávez and Maduro regimes repeatedly announced that they had spent billions of dollars to guarantee electricity supplies.

Much of that money wound up in the hands of corrupt officials, the experts added.

Motta nevertheless repeatedly complained that the problems with the electricity system were the result of sabotage carried out by opponents of the Maduro government.

USA TREASURY ANNOUNCEMENT: Treasury Sanctions Officials of the Illegitimate Maduro Regime Involved in Rampant Corruption

https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/sm718

Treasury continues to target corrupt public sector officials undermining public services

Washington – Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated two Maduro regime officials who continue to engage in significant corruption and fraud to the detriment of the people of Venezuela.  Persistent countrywide blackouts are the latest and worst in a long history of electricity outages, stemming from years of massive corruption, neglect, and mismanagement of Venezuela’s electricity infrastructure by the illegitimate Maduro regime.  The lack of electricity limits the Venezuelan people’s access to basic goods, services, and potable water supplies, and exacerbates the already precarious health care system, in which the majority of hospitals already lack reliable water and power and are experiencing shortages of medicine and medical supplies.

“The people of Venezuela entrusted their public officials to provide fundamental civic services, like water and electricity.  The illegitimate Maduro regime exploits the public trust by plundering Venezuelan assets, enriching themselves, and watching idly as basic public systems needlessly and catastrophically fail,” said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin.  “Treasury will continue to target officials who exacerbate corruption at the expense of the Venezuelan people and knowingly fail to provide basic public services.”

Today’s action targets the former minister of Electric Power and President of the National Electric Corporation (CORPOELEC), Luis Alfredo Motta Dominguez (Motta), and the Deputy Minister of Finance, Investments, and Strategic Alliances for the Ministry of Electric Power, Eustiquio Jose Lugo Gomez (Lugo), pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13692.  Rather than use their official positions to serve the Venezuelan people, Motta and Lugo illegally enriched themselves and contributed to the electricity crisis.

Pursuant to an investigation undertaken by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida, the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and the Drug Enforcement Administration in Miami, as a part of a criminal complaint in March 2019, senior CORPOELEC officials were identified as having previously received bribes, since at least 2016, from two Venezuelan businessmen in exchange for awarding contracts for expensive equipment to maintain Venezuelan electrical infrastructure.  Some of the equipment received as a part of these contracts was incompatible with the Venezuelan electrical system, rendering them useless and contributing to the ongoing deterioration of the electrical system.  Despite those incompatibilities, officials from CORPOELEC listed these contracts as delivered and processed in full.  As corruption ran rampant through CORPOELEC, senior officials continued to exacerbate the ongoing mismanagement intertwined in the Venezuelan electrical infrastructure and ignored their responsibility to the Venezuelan people.

The following two individuals are being designated today pursuant to Executive Order 13692, as amended, as current or former officials of the Government of Venezuela:

  • Luis Alfredo Motta Dominguez is the former Minister of Electric Power as well as President of the National Electric Corporation (CORPOELEC), both positions he had held since 2015.  Maduro removed Motta from these positions in March 2019.  Additionally, Motta is a Major General of the Bolivarian National Guard and previously served as the head of Strategic Integral Development Region (REDI) Central.
  • Eustiquio Jose Lugo Gomez is the Deputy Minister of Finance, Investment, and Strategic Alliances for the Ministry of Electric Power.  Additionally, Lugo is a Brigadier General and was formerly appointed to the Operations Directorate of the Anti-Drug Command of the General Command of the Bolivarian National Guard.

As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of these individuals, and of any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by such individuals, that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons are blocked and must be reported to OFAC.  OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all dealings by U.S. persons or within (or transiting) the United States that involve any property or interests in property of blocked or designated persons.

Also today, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida and the Justice Department’s Criminal Division indicted Motta and Lugo for their alleged roles in laundering the proceeds of violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and Venezuelan anti-bribery law in connection with their alleged receipt of bribes to award CORPOELEC business to U.S.-based companies.  Additional information about today’s action.

U.S. sanctions need not be permanent; sanctions are intended to bring about a positive change of behavior.  For example, on May 7, 2019, OFAC removed sanctions imposed on former high-ranking Venezuelan intelligence official Manuel Ricardo Cristopher Figuera after his public break with Maduro.  The United States continues to make clear that the removal of sanctions is available for persons designated under E.O. 13692 or E.O. 13850, both as amended, who take concrete and meaningful actions to restore democratic order, refuse to take part in human rights abuses, speak out against abuses committed by the illegitimate Maduro regime, or combat corruption in Venezuela.

For information about the methods that Venezuelan senior political figures, their associates, and front persons use to move and hide corrupt proceeds, including how they try to exploit the U.S. financial system and real estate market, please refer to Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) advisories FIN-2019-A002, “Updated Advisory on Widespread Public Corruption in Venezuela,” FIN-2017-A006, “Advisory to Financial Institutions and Real Estate Firms and Professionals” and FIN-2018-A003, “Advisory on Human Rights Abuses Enabled by Corrupt Senior Foreign Political Figures and their Financial Facilitators.”

USA DOJ ANNOUNCEMENT: 2 Former Venezuelan Officials Charged + 2 Businessmen Plead Guilty in Connection with Venezuela Bribery Scheme

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

A former Venezuelan government minister and a former officer at Venezuela’s state-owned and state-controlled electricity company, Corporación Eléctrica Nacional, S.A. (Corpoelec), were charged in an indictment returned today for their alleged roles in laundering the proceeds of violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) in connection with their alleged receipt of bribes to award Corpoelec business to U.S.-based companies.  Today’s indictment follows the guilty pleas of two businessmen, earlier this week, for conspiring to violate the FCPA in connection with the corrupt payment scheme at Corpoelec.

Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Ariana Fajardo Orshan of the Southern District of Florida and Special Agent in Charge Adolphus P. Wright of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Miami Field Division (DEA Miami) made the announcement.

Luis Alfredo Motta Dominguez (Motta), 60, and Eustiquio Jose Lugo Gomez (Lugo), 55, both of Venezuela, were charged in an eight-count indictment returned today in the Southern District of Florida with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and seven counts of money laundering.  Until recently, Motta was the minister of electrical energy in Venezuela and the head of Corpoelec; Lugo was the procurement director at Corpoelec.

The indictment alleges that beginning in or around January 2016 and continuing through December 2018, Motta and Lugo conspired with others to launder the proceeds of an illegal bribery scheme to and from bank accounts located in southern Florida.  According to the indictment, Motta and Lugo awarded three Florida-based companies more than $60 million in procurement contracts with Corpoelec in exchange for bribes paid to them or for their benefit.  The indictment further alleges that the unlawful activity was a bribery scheme that violated the FCPA and involved bribery offenses against Venezuela.  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.

An indictment is merely an allegation and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

On June 24, 2019, Jesus Ramon Veroes (Veroes), 69, of Venezuela, and Luis Alberto Chacin Haddad (Chacin), 54, of Miami, Florida, each pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga of the Southern District of Florida to one count of conspiracy to violate various provisions of the FCPA.  Veroes and Chacin are scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Altonaga on Sept. 4, 2019.

According to admissions made in connection with their guilty pleas, Veroes and Chacin agreed with each other and with other co-conspirators to make corrupt payments to foreign officials at Corpoelec in exchange for the award of procurement contracts to Florida-based companies.  Under the terms of their plea agreements, Veroes and Chacin will each be required to forfeit at least $5.5 million in profits from the corruptly obtained contracts, as well as real property in the Miami area.

This case was investigated by DEA Miami with assistance from the IRS Criminal Investigations Miami Field Office and the FBI’s Miami Field Office.  Trial Attorney John-Alex Romano of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, Trial Attorney Joseph Palazzo of the Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael B. Nadler of the Southern District of Florida are prosecuting the case.

The Fraud Section is responsible for investigating and prosecuting all FCPA matters.  Additional information about the Justice Department’s FCPA enforcement efforts can be found at www.justice.gov/criminal/fraud/fcpa.