Javier Aguilar, a Mexican citizen living in Houston, has been indicted on charges of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and conspiracy to commit money laundering. He faces charges in the Eastern District of New York.
Mr Aguilar was an Oil Trader for Vitol, which has its head office in Geneva. According to the press release released by the Justice Dept, between mid-2015 and 2020, Aguilar paid two intermediaries $1.4 million for their efforts to bribe government officials in Ecuador. In turn, the intermediaries paid out $870,000 to the officials.
In exchange for bribes, Vitol secured contracts to purchase approximately $300 million in fuel oil.
Press Release and Indictment details don’t match
What’s interesting is that the details quoted in the press release don’t match the details in the indictment. The indictment has two counts. Count One is the conspiracy to violate the FCPA. This count has all the detail. Count Two is the conspiracy to commit money laundering and the indictment has no specific details on this.
Regarding count One, the indictment states that Aguilar sent an email in September 2016 to one of the intermediaries directing that individual to send a letter from a state-owned entity in Oman to Ecuadorian official #1.
One of the intermediaries created 39 sham invoices and sent them to a shell company in Curaçao. Vitol wired approximately $750,000 from a UK bank account to the shell company. It’s not clear in the indictment which invoices this payment covered. However, as payment for 13 of the 39 invoices, the shell company wired approximately $250,000. The money was sent to bank accounts in the Cayman Islands and Curaçao controlled by the intermediaries. In turn, they sent $225,000 (via a correspondence bank in New York) to an account in Portugal controlled by the Ecuadorian official.
The press release refers to Ecuadorian officials, however, the indictment only refers to one in count One.
If convicted, Aguilar faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison