Man charged in Venezuelan bribery, money laundering scheme

MIAMI (AP) — A Syrian man living in South Florida has been charged with laundering money and bribing Venezuelan officials in exchange for receiving lucrative contracts from the South American country’s state-owned energy and food companies.

Naman Wakil, 59, appeared in Miami federal court on Wednesday after he was indicted on charges including conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, violating the act, conspiracy to commit money laundering, international promotional money laundering and three counts of engaging in transactions involving criminally derived property. If convicted, Wakil faces up to 80 years in prison.

According to court documents, from 2010 through at least September 2017, Wakil conspired with others to bribe officials with Corporación de Abastecimiento y Servicios Agrícola and Petróleos de Venezuela. Prosecutors said Wakil paid the bribes to obtain contracts worth at least $250 million to sell food to the food company and do business with the energy company.

Wakil laundered funds related to the bribery scheme through bank accounts located in South Florida, investigators said. His purchases included 10 apartment units in South Florida, a $3.5 million plane and a $1.5 million yacht, prosecutors said.

Online court records didn’t list an attorney for Wakil.

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