Miami, Florida - A South Florida resident was arrested Tuesday in Miami on charges related to his alleged role in a scheme to bribe Venezuelan officials and launder funds to obtain contracts from Venezuela’s state-owned and state-controlled energy company, Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA), and Venezuela’s state-owned and state-controlled food company that purchased food for Venezuela, Corporación de Abastecimiento y Servicios Agrícola (CASA).
According to court documents, from 2010 continuing through at least September 2017, Naman Wakil, 59, of Miami, a Syrian national and U.S. lawful permanent resident, allegedly conspired with others to make bribe payments to CASA officials and officials at joint ventures between PDVSA and various foreign companies in the oil-rich Orinoco belt of Venezuela. Wakil allegedly paid these bribes to obtain at least $250 million in contracts to sell food to CASA and do business with the PDVSA joint ventures, including obtaining highly inflated contracts (worth at least $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 located in south Florida and purchased 10 apartment units in south Florida, a $3.5-million plane and a $1.5-million yacht, among other things. Wakil also used a portion of the funds to make payments to or for the benefit of the Venezuelan officials.
Wakil is charged with conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), violating the FCPA, conspiracy to commit money laundering, international promotional money laundering and three counts of engaging in transactions involving criminally derived property. If convicted, Wakil faces a maximum penalty of 80 years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Wakil made his initial appearance in federal court today at 1:30 p.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Lauren Louis in Miami.
Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting U.S. Attorney Juan Antonio Gonzalez for the Southern District of Florida, Special Agent in Charge Anthony Salisbury of the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Miami Field Office, and Acting Special Agent in Charge Tyler R. Hatcher of the IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Miami Field Office made the announcement.
Trial Attorney Alexander Kramer of the Justice Department’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Berger of the Southern District of Florida are prosecuting the case.