The case of bribes in Petroecuador continues to advance in the court of the southern district of Florida. Now, financial adviser Jose Larrea, a US citizen, pleaded guilty to the crime of conspiracy to launder money, according to a statement from the US Department of Justice.
Larrea, 40 years old and based in Miami, was accused along with Frank Roberto Chatburn Ripalda of participating in activities of laundering illicit money from bribes paid for contracts in the public company Petroecuador. In addition, Chatburn was accused by the grand jury of offering and paying bribes to Ecuadorian officials, thus violating the Foreign Corruption Practices Act.
According to the Justice Department, Larrea told authorities that along with Chatburn Ripalda and others living in Miami participated in the illegal payment scheme for Petroecuador officials.
He admitted, the bulletin adds, to having participated in a money laundering scheme by sending more than $ 1 million from his personal bank account to several other accounts in the United States. Those transfers were made to “hide a scheme of bribes between an oil service contractor that made payments to Petroecuador officials in an effort to maintain existing contracts and get new business with Petroecuador.”
He even confessed that he created false documents with delayed dates for the Petroecuador contractor. The sentencing hearing will be held on November 14 in Miami.
Meanwhile, Chatburn has pleaded not guilty to both charges and last April paid a $ 200,000 guarantee for the commitment to attend subsequent hearings on his trial. His trial will begin on October 15.
In the indictment against Chatburn and Larrea, US prosecutors mentioned the contractor Galileoenergy, belonging to Ramiro Luque Flores and his wife, Glenda Marianela Meza Bracho. The company was a representative of Veolia Enviromental Services UK Ltd. and obtained in 2012 a Petroecuador contract for $ 8.8 million for the waste treatment of the Esmeraldas Refinery. That initial contract was signed by the then manager, Carlos Pareja Yannuzzelli (now imprisoned). After three complementary agreements, the services amounted to $ 38.1 million (more than 300%).
Luque Flores has also pleaded guilty to the allegations, but his case is still in New York. Two Petroecuador officials have already been tried in Florida. He is the legal coordinator of the oil company, Marcelo Reyes López, and the adviser Arturo Alfredo Escobar Domínguez.
The investigations began following the publication of the so-called Panama Papers, which are the archives of the Panamanian study Mossack Fonseca, and whose disclosure was in charge of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and a group of more than 100 media around of the world.
In 2016, EL UNIVERSO revealed the communications exchanges that dated back to November 2013, when Ramiro Luque Flores asked Frank Chatburn to open businesses on behalf of Álex Bravro and Alfredo Escobar. According to the Panama Papers, the payments for the creation of the companies came from Sentinel Mandate & Escrow Limited, offshore in the British Virgin Islands, from account number 00218100 in the DMS Bank & Trust, Cayman Islands.
Sentinel Mandate & Escrow Limited also appears in the confessions of Odebrecht’s director in Ecuador, Jose Santos, in which he points out that he also sent money orders to buy favors from Ecuadorian officials. (I)