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Venezuela ex-minister Motta Dominguez charged in U.S. over bribes to Florida-based companies

Miami Herald

Luis Motta Domínguez

- Nations's ex-minister of electric energy Luis Motta Dominguez implicated in scheme
- Criminal case coincides with widespread daily power outages

By Patricia Hurtado and Patricia Laya / Bloomberg

Petroleumworld 06 28 2019

A former Venezuelan government official and a former officer at Corpoelec SA , Venezuela's state-owned power company, were charged by U.S. prosecutors with taking bribes to award $60 million in business to Florida-based companies.

Luis Alfredo Motta Dominguez, 60, and Eustiquio Jose Lugo Gomez, 55, were indicted on both conspiracy and money laundering charges. Motta was until recently Venezuela's minister of electrical energy while Lugo was Corpoelec's procurement director, according to Ariana Fahardo Orshan, the U.S. Attorney in Miami.

The two men are accused of using bank accounts in Southern Florida to launder the money they got in bribes, according to the U.S. Motta and Lugo then allegedly awarded Corpoelec contracts worth more than $60 million to three Florida-based companies.

In a related matter, Orshan's office said Jesus Ramon Veroes, 69, of Venezuela, and Luis Alberto Chacin Haddad, 54, of Miami, pleaded guilty on June 24 to one count of conspiracy to violate U.S. anti-foreign bribery laws. Both admitted to making corrupt payments to officials at Corpoelec in exchange for contracts. They each agreed to forfeit $5.5 million in profits they made.

Venezuela was plagued by blackouts in March and April which afflicted everyone across the nation of some 28 million people. Since then, steady service has mostly been restored to the capital, leaving the rest of the country subject to daily outages and chaotic power rationing as the government tries to repair power lines and substations amid a shortage of replacement parts and materials.

Motta was replaced as electricity minister in April by President Nicolas Maduro, who blamed the series of outages on U.S. President Donald Trump and the Venezuelan opposition as alleged attacks seeking to spark unrest and oust him from power.

Story by Patricia Hurtado and Patricia Laya from Bloomberg. 06 27 2019


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