A Grand Jury in Brooklyn, NY has indicted a Mexican citizen for facilitating bribes to former Ecuadorian officials. The man, Javier Aguilar, currently resides in the U.S. and worked as a trader for an unnamed multinational oil distribution and trading company. According to the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) press release, Aguilar has been charged with “conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and conspiracy to commit money laundering.” The DOJ claims that Aguilar paid bribes over a period of five years between 2015 and 2020, including a bribe of $870,000 to secure a $300 million oil contract with the Ecuadorian state oil company Petroecuador.
The DOJ also claims that the unnamed oil company knowingly paid these bribes by disguising them as consulting costs. The oil company allegedly paid intermediaries and offshore shell companies, intending for the money to reach the Ecuadorian officials.
This case will be prosecuted under the FCPA’s powerful anti-bribery statutes that apply to all companies that are publicly traded on the U.S. stock exchange. The FCPA also has very strong statutes that mandate record keeping. If a company fails to comply with these strict record keeping procedures, they can be prosecuted. This keeps companies from omitting bribes from their records and makes it much harder to pay corrupt officials, even outside of the U.S.
Although there is no whistleblower mentioned in this case, many whistleblowers who disclose corruption choose to proceed with their complaint anonymously. If a whistleblower complaint results in a sanction of more than $1 million, the government is required to reward the whistleblower with 10 to 30% of the total penalty.
Read the DOJ press release here.