The Federal government announced sanctions last week against a pair of Venezuelan officials in the administration of Nicolas Maduro for engaging in widespread corruption and fraud that has led to major problems in the country’s electrical grid.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated the duo on the basis of allegations that they grossly violated the public trust by enriching themselves even as Venezuelans went without food, clean water, and power. An investigation conducted by agents across several Federal agencies say they discovered a significant history of accepting bribes in exchange for construction contracts that stretches back for at least three years.
Federal authorities say the two men, one of whom is the former minister of Electric Power and President of the National Electric Corporation (CORPOELEC), while the other is the Deputy Minister of Finance, Investments, and Strategic Alliances for the Ministry of Electric Power, sold contracts to companies that provided expensive equipment that was incompatible with Venezuela’s decaying electrical grid, allowing the system to fall further into disrepair. Even though the equipment was wholly inappropriate for the purpose for which it was obtained, investigators say the contracts were marked as fulfilled and the payments to those companies was made.
In addition to designation by OFAC, the two men were simultaneously indicted by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida and the Justice Department’s Criminal Division on allegations that they laundered the proceeds they garnered via illicit bribes, which were also collected in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and various of Venezuela’s anti-bribery laws.
As a result of OFAC’s sanctions, the men are prohibited from exercising ownership rights in any property they have in the United States, and Americans are forbidden from knowingly transating business with them.
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