Bribes, Bribes, Bribes

MANHATTAN (CN) – The head of a Miami brokerage office paid millions of dollars in bribes to get his company $66 million in profits in bond trading business from a state-owned Venezuelan bank, federal prosecutors and the SEC say in parallel complaints.
     The United States charged Ernesto Lujan, former head of the Miami office of Direct Access Partners, with money laundering, violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the Travel, and conspiracy for all three counts.
     The SEC, in an amended federal complaint, charged Lujan and five others with “a massive fraudulent scheme involving tens of millions of dollars of illicit kickbacks and other ‘pay to play’ arrangements among individuals affiliated with a New York broker-dealer, Direct Access Partners, LLC (‘DAP’), and at least one corrupt senior official of a Venezuelan state-created and owned banking entity, Banco de Desarrollo Economico y Social de Venezuela (‘BANDES’).”
     Direct Access Partners is not a party to either complaint.
     The SEC sued these defendants. All quotations are from the complaint:
     Lujan, 50, of Wellington, Fla.;
     Tomas Alberto Clarke Bethancourt, 43, of Miami, an executive vice president with DAP;
     Iuri Rodolfo Bethancourt, 40, of Panama, president of ETC Investment in Panama. “Bethancourt has worked as a bank teller and operations officer at various banks in Panama. DAP made payments of more than $20 million to ETC and Bethancourt in connection with the fraudulent scheme described herein. ETC is an apparent acronym for Edgar Tomas Clarke, Clarke’s father”;
     Jose Alejandro Hurtado, 38, of Miami, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Colombia. “Hurtado was hired by DAP as a purported non-registered ‘back office’ employee as of July 1, 2009. DAP made payments of more than $6 million to Hurtado in connection with the fraudulent scheme described herein. Hurtado is married to defendant Pabon”;
     Haydee Leticia Pabon, 33, of Miami, a Venezuelan who has lived in Florida since 2000. “Pabon is the Director for International Sales in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Russia for a Miami-based distributor of Venezuelan cable television network programs. DAP made payments of more than $8 million to Pabon in connection with the fraudulent scheme described herein.”
     The SEC seeks disgorgement, penalties and injunctions.
     The U.S. attorney wants Lujan arrested. The six-count federal complaint contains incriminating emails, translated from Spanish.

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