Two financial asset managers charged in alleged $1.2 billion Venezuelan money laundering scheme | takeover bid


Two financial asset managers have been charged with money laundering in connection with a $1.2 billion international scheme to launder corruptly obtained funds from the state-owned and controlled Venezuelan energy company, Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA).

According to the indictment released today in the Southern District of Florida, Ralph Steinmann, 48, of Switzerland, and Luis Fernando Vuteff, 51, of Argentina, are each charged with one count of conspiracy in to commit money laundering.

The court documents, which include a criminal complaint indicting Steinmann and Vuteff on June 12, allege that beginning in or around December 2014 and continuing until at least August 2018, Steinmann and Vuteff conspired with others to whitewash the proceeds of a system of illegal corruption using the US financial system as well as various bank accounts located overseas. The conspirators laundered the illicit proceeds as part of a corrupt currency exchange scheme involving the bribery of Venezuelan officials.

Steinmann, Vuteff and others reportedly discussed and agreed to create the sophisticated financial mechanisms and relationships necessary to launder more than $200 million related to the scheme as well as accounts opened for or on behalf of at least two Venezuelan public officials in order to receive their bribes. related to the regime.

If convicted, the defendants face up to 20 years in prison for conspiracy to commit money laundering. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering US sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. Vuteff has been arrested and is awaiting extradition from Switzerland. Steinmann remains a fugitive from the United States.

Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr., of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Juan Antonio Gonzalez for the Southern District of Florida, and Special Agent in Charge Anthony Salisbury of the Miami Bureau of Investigations on Homeland Security (HSI) made the announcement.

HSI Miami is investigating the matter. This case is the result of the ongoing efforts of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force’s Operation Money Flight, a partnership between and among federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.

Trial Attorney Paul A. Hayden of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Kurt K. Lunkenheimer for the Southern District of Florida are prosecuting the case.

The Department of International Affairs of the Ministry of Justice and the Swiss judicial authorities are providing substantial assistance in this case.

The Fraud Section is responsible for investigating and prosecuting FCPA matters. Additional information about the Department of Justice’s FCPA enforcement efforts is available at

An indictment is only an allegation, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by a court.


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