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US authorities uncover 250$m bribery and money laundering scheme

DOJ says Florida resident engaged in scam with Venezuelan officials and other global financial crime stories are covered in this week's Napier news roundup.

Napier AI
August 6, 2021

US authorities uncover inflated food and oil scheme contracts in Venezuela worth $250 million

US Department of Justice officials announced the arrest of US resident, Mr Naman Wakil, on Wednesday. Among the charges against Mr Wakil are conspiracy to contravene the Corrupt Foreign Practices Act (FCPA) and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

The DOJ allege that Mr Wakil bribed officials to obtain inflated contracts for both the supply of food to CASA, and the provision of goods and services to the PDVSA. The contracts were worth $250 million (£180 million).

The money was supposedly laundered through accounts in Florida, where Mr Wakil had purchased many high value items- including a $3.5 million (£2.5 million) private plane and a $1.5 million (£1.1 million) yacht- as well as 10 apartment units.

The bribery and money laundering offenses are alleged to have taken place from 2010 to 2017. Mr Wakil is charged with having colluded with corrupt officials at two of Venezuela’s state-run companies, namely the energy company Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA), and the food company, Corporación de Abastecimiento y Servicios Agrícola (CASA).  

The arrest is another milestone in a broader crackdown on corruption at PDVSA by US authorities. If convicted, Mr Wakil could face up to 80 years in prison.  

Read more on this story in the Financial Post .

Omani Housing ministry says new regulations will combat money laundering through real estate

The regulations issued by the Omani ministry of Housing and Urban Planning means that real estate companies and other players in the property sector will be held accountable if they accept funds generated by money laundering.

One highlight of the new regulations is a rigorous approach to establishing the true identities, beneficial ownership, legal status, employment activity, and intentions of clients and entities which seek to do business with real estate agencies. Trade with clients or entities which use false names or have secret bank accounts is forbidden.

Another highlight is a focus on training of employees in the sector. Employees must receive training on the detection of suspicious activities or transactions, and ongoing training on new financial systems must be provided to keep employees up to date.  

Additionally, compliance procedures must be documented and constantly updated, while an audit system of internal and external compliance procedures needs to be adopted. Procedures must also be drafted in writing for appraisal by relevant Omani government organisations if required.

Read more on this story in The Times of Oman.

Manchester traffic police find £250 000 in uninsured vehicle at traffic stop

The Greater Manchester Police (GMP) Traffic made the discovery when they pulled over a Vauxhall Meriva in Prestwich last Friday. As well as establishing that the vehicle was uninsured, they found £250 000 cash in a cardboard box inside the vehicle. The driver was duly arrested and charged with both money laundering and driving uninsured.

The arrest, which was prompted by a tip-off from crime intelligence, follows several recent successes for the Greater Manchester Police in combating economic crime. In January, three fake adult entertainment companies, which had laundered £44 million through online payment platforms, had to forfeit £5.8 million to the GMP. In July, £1.89 million was forfeited to the GMP from the ill-gotten gains of jailed fraudster Aram Sheibani.

In a statement explaining how recovered funds are used, a GMP press release said “All forfeited funds are sent to the Home Office and half is returned to GMP to be re-invested in a range of policing and community projects as part of our wider approach at tackling serious and organised crime.”

Read more on this story at ITV.

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