(HOUSTON) Justice Dept Report: A dual US-Venezuelan citizen & former official of Citgo Petroleum Corp has ‘pleaded guilty’ on Monday in connection to ‘International Bribery & Laundering’ during 2013 – 2019 of at least $7-million in contracts #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – Mar.24: According to court documents, between approximately 2013 and 2019, Jose Luis De Jongh Atencio (De Jongh), 48, a former procurement officer and manager in Citgo’s Special Projects Group, accepted more than $7 million in bribe payments from businessmen including Jose Manuel Gonzalez Testino (Gonzalez), a dual U.S.-Venezuelan citizen, and Tulio Anibal Farias Perez (Farias), a Venezuelan national and Houston resident, and others in exchange for assisting the businessmen and related companies in procuring contracts with Citgo, and providing them with other business advantages:

Former Venezuelan Official Pleads Guilty in Connection with International Bribery and Money Laundering Scheme: ‘A dual U.S.-Venezuelan citizen and former official at Citgo Petroleum Corporation, a Houston-based subsidiary of Venezuela’s state-owned and state-controlled energy company Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA), pleaded guilty Monday in connection with his role in laundering millions of dollars in bribes and corruptly providing business advantages to multiple individuals who obtained contracts with Citgo and PDVSA’

De Jongh admitted to directing bribe payments from Gonzalez, Farias, and others into bank accounts in the names of shell companies that he controlled in Panama and Switzerland. In some instances, he also directed the creation of fake invoices to justify the payments. De Jongh laundered the bribe proceeds through U.S. and international bank accounts and used the funds to purchase real property located in the Houston area. In addition to monetary payments, De Jongh also received bribes in the form of gifts and other things of value from Gonzalez, Farias, and others including tickets to a 2014 World Series Game, Super Bowl XLIX in 2015, and a U2 concert. Gonzalez and Farias also entered guilty pleas in connection with the case.

“Jose Luis De Jongh Atencio accepted millions of dollars in bribe payments — placing law-abiding individuals and companies at a competitive disadvantage — and then laundered those bribe payments into the United States to fund his lavish lifestyle,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicholas L. McQuaid of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “This guilty plea demonstrates the commitment of the department and our law enforcement partners to hold accountable individuals who engage in corruption and use our financial system to promote and launder the proceeds of their crimes.”

“Foreign bribery schemes like this pose a significant threat to the public trust and fair-trade practices,” said Special Agent in Charge Mark Dawson of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Houston. “This plea is a step in the right direction, but we will continue to level the playing field for companies and consumers by aggressively investigating individuals and corporations who violate the FCPA and misuse our financial system.”

De Jongh pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. He is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Gray H. Miller on Aug. 19, and faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. Judge Miller will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. In addition, as part of his plea, De Jongh also agreed to forfeit over $3 million seized from his bank accounts and 15 properties that he purchased with his corrupt proceeds.

To date, the Justice Department has announced charges against 28 individuals, 22 of whom have pleaded guilty, as part of a larger, ongoing investigation by the U.S. government into bribery at PDVSA.

HSI Houston is conducting the ongoing investigation with assistance from HSI Boston and Miami.

Trial Attorney Sarah E. Edwards and Assistant Chief Sonali D. Patel of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Robert S. Johnson and John P. Pearson of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas are prosecuting the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kristine E. Rollinson is handling the forfeiture aspects of the case.

The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs, the Swiss Federal Office of Justice and the Office of the Attorney General of Panama also provided assistance.

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

#AceNewsDesk report ……….Published: Mar.24: 2021:

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(WASHINGTON) Justice Dept Report: DPRK Intelligence Service Affiliated Businessman Accused of Using the U.S. Financial System and Deceiving U.S. Banks to Circumvent Sanctions Against North Korea #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – Mar.23: The indictment alleges that Mun defrauded banks and laundered money in an effort to evade counter-proliferation sanctions imposed on North Korea by the United States and the United Nations,” said Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers for the Justice Department’s National Security Division. “We will continue to use the long reach of our laws to protect the American people from sanctions evasion and other national security threats.”

First North Korean National Brought to the United States to Stand Trial for Money Laundering Offenses: ‘After nearly two years of legal proceedings, Mun Chol Myong (Mun), 55, a national of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), has been extradited to the United States’

This case represents the first ever extradition to the United States of a DPRK national. Mun is accused of laundering money through the U.S. financial system as part of a scheme to provide luxury items to the DPRK.

“We are pleased that Mun has been extradited and will stand trial for the offenses alleged in the indictment,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips for the District of Columbia. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia will always be prepared to protect our nation’s financial system and pursue those who violate our laws, regardless of where they might hide.”

“One of the FBI’s biggest counterintelligence challenges is bringing overseas defendants to justice, especially in the case of North Korea,” said Assistant Direction Alan E. Kohler Jr. of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division. “Thanks to the FBI’s partnership with foreign authorities, we’re proud to bring Mun Chol Myong to the United States to face justice, and we hope he will be the first of many.”

“It is important to underscore the relevance of this first-ever extradition of a North Korean national,” said Special Agent in Charge Michael F. Paul of the FBI’s Minneapolis field office. “Our Minneapolis agents worked this case closely with international partners highlighting how FBI special agents are persistent and have an international impact wherever they are.”

According to the indictment and other court documents unsealed today, between April 2013 and November 2018, Mun and others conspired to covertly and fraudulently access the U.S. financial system. Mun is alleged to have defrauded U.S. banks and violated both U.S. and United Nations (U.N.) sanctions as part of his money laundering activities in transactions valued at over $1.5 million. The indictment further alleges that Mun was affiliated with the DPRK’s primary intelligence organization, the Reconnaissance General Bureau, which is the subject of U.S. and U.N. sanctions.

Mun has been detained in a foreign country since his arrest by local authorities on May 14, 2019. He made his initial appearance today in federal court in the District of Columbia, where he was indicted on May 2, 2019. Mun faces six counts of money laundering, including conspiracy to commit money laundering.

According to the indictment, Mun and his conspirators went to great lengths to avoid detection of their sanctions-busting operation. They used a web of front companies and bank accounts registered to false names and removed references to the DPRK from international wire transfer and transactional documents. By intentionally concealing that their transactions were for the benefit of DPRK entities, Mun and his conspirators deceived U.S. correspondent banks into processing U.S. dollar transactions for the benefit of DPRK entities, which the correspondent banks would have otherwise not processed.  

This investigation was conducted by the FBI’s Minneapolis Field Office and coordinated by the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division. The Department of Justice would also like to thank the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command and the FBI’s Investigative Operations Division for providing analytical support during the investigation. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs provided substantial assistance in securing Mun’s arrest and extradition. The FBI’s Washington Field Office also provided essential support during the extradition process.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael P. Grady and Tejpal S. Chawla of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, and Trial Attorney David C. Recker of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section, with support from Paralegal Specialist Brian Rickers and Legal Assistant Jessica McCormick, are prosecuting the case. 

An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed a violation of criminal laws and every defendant is presumed innocent until, and unless, proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

#AceNewsDesk report ……….Published: Mar.23: 2021:

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#doj, #dprk, #laundering, #money, #north-korea