The Korean firm in charge of the repowering of the Esmeraldas Refinery, SK Engineering & Construction, made payments to the ex-manager of Petroecuador Álex Bravo through companies in Panama. The amount amounted to almost $ 1.4 million.
This was revealed by a prosecutor’s indictment of the Second Special Prosecutor’s Office against the Delinquency of Panama, which is dated November 2017. Prosecutor Ricaurte González Torres charged 23 people with the crime of money laundering, related to Petroecuador’s bribery scheme.
In that list are Álex Bravo and the Ecuadorian Korean citizen Dong Yeon Choi Kim (47 years old). The latter is who managed the company Professional Consulting & Services PCS Inc., processed by Carlos Mata Hanze and the Panamanian firm Anzola Robles & Asociados. Mata was also the intermediary for the companies of Juan Baquerizo Escobar, another contractor who paid Bravo.
Professional Consulting & Services PCS Inc. was incorporated in October 2009 and opened two accounts at MMG Bank.
Before the bank, he justified that the firm “will be receiving around $ 20’377,497.00, according to the contract it has with SK Engineering & Construction Co. Ltd., in charge of the rehabilitation project of the Esmeraldas Refinery.”
In that banking client profile it is indicated that the final beneficiary of the company is Dong Choi Kim, independent consultant, and that the money will come from consultancies.
Dong Choi Kim told the bank that SK Engineering handles contracts with Petroecuador for $ 289 million and that therefore “contracts consulting services with Brewster Oil Corp., which will be carried out by three companies paying them 3% of the project amount (the refinery ), that is, $ 8.07 million. ”
The sum of $ 289 million was the initial amount. In reality SK Engineering obtained ten Petroecuador contracts, of which four were complementary. The total value signed in contracts for the repowering of the Esmeraldas Refinery amounted to $ 717.75 million.
El Universo newspaper requested an interview with this company by email and telephone, but in their offices in Quito it was reported that they could not attend the request nor could they give information about the agent.
According to the Superintendence of Companies, SK Engineering’s first representative in Ecuador was Du Yeon Choi Kim. This newspaper learned that this is the younger brother of Dong Choi Kim.
El Universo looked for Dong Choi Kim at his home in the Miravalle citadel, in Cumbayá, but they said he was not there at the time.
According to the information that Panamanian banks reported to that country’s Attorney, Professional Consulting & Services received three SK Engineering payments in their MMG Bank accounts between March 11 and December 12, 2014 for a total of $ 19 34 million. While Brewster Oil Corp. received two payments for $ 4.5 million.
A few days after the first transfer to Professional Consulting, payments began to the companies of Álex Bravo in Panama: Girbra S.A., Gevabra S.A. and the Cajaín Foundation. The last transfer to Girbra was in June 2017. The total amount is $ 1’399.275,05.
This newspaper requested an interview with the lawyer of the ex-manager of Petroecuador, now sentenced and imprisoned. The jurist Diego Velasco, who represents Bravo, said he was not authorized to speak on the subject of Petroecuador.
Additionally, Professional Consulting would have transferred $ 350,000 to Radoes S.A., Panamanian company of Arturo Alfredo Escobar Domínguez, former consultant to Carlos Pareja Yannuzzelli. In the fiscal accusation a communication referring to that transfer is cited. A few days ago, Escobar Domínguez was sentenced in the United States to four years in prison.
According to information of that process that was followed in Florida (USA), Escobar Domínguez accepted to have received $ 1.9 million in bribes from different contractors of the state oil company.
Another transfer that consisted in the Panamanian tax accusation was Professional Consulting to Roberto G. Hooper, related to Worley Parsons International, inspector of the Esmeraldas refinery project. The company Worley Parsons did not respond to an interview request with El Universo.
The 142-page fiscal document accuses several of the ex-employees and businessmen who are sentenced for the case of the oil company in Ecuador, such as former minister Carlos Pareja Yannuzzelli. And to others who are fugitives, such as the contractor Ramiro Luque Flores.
Although they are not charged in Panama, the record included several transfers from Professional Consulting to WCG International Inc., a Panamanian company registered in February 2013 by Morgan & Morgan and whose treasurer is the Ecuadorian lawyer Xavier Weisson Pazmiño. According to the document, the payments were for “an internal consultancy carried out together with the firm Pareja Asociados y Cía.”.
Xavier Weisson confirmed this newspaper, by telephone from Miami, that effectively WCG International received these payments for financial advice provided to the law firm of Carlos Pareja Cordero, who is his father-in-law.
WCG International did not provide any advice to SK Engineering or anything related to Petroecuador, said Weisson, 42. He stressed that he already explained this issue to the authorities and that he is not accused of any crime. In the financial information of the Paresoci Compañía Limitada study, it is stated that SK Engineering was his client in 2010 and he canceled $ 77,000. (I)