In anew indictment against the Ecuadorian American Frank Roberto Chatburn Ripalda,US justice has linked two bribery schemes that have occurred in Ecuador: thatof the state Petroecuador and that of the Brazilian construction companyOdebrecht.
According to US justice, the amount of bribes related to Chatburn Ripalda would reach $ 3’270,980, paid to several Petroecuador officials, including one that “had various functions from 2012 to 2016, including the Pacific Refinery, Ministry of Hydrocarbons and Petroecuador “.
The key to this puzzle is the transfers made from the accounts of the companies Denfield Investments Inc. and Sentinel Mandate & Escrow Ltd., domiciled intax havens.
This accusation by the Grand Jury against Chatburn joins another one on April 19last. He left free after paying a millionaire bail. In contrast, the American José Larrea, included in the initial indictment, pleaded guilty to having helped hide $ 1 million in bribes and was already sentenced to 27 months injail.
This new indictment reveals three transfers made between April 2014 and September2015 totaling $ 839,000.
The first operation amounts to $ 340,000. Sentinel made it to a Swiss bank accountin favor of Girbra, a Panamanian firm whose beneficiary was the ex-manager of Petroecuador Álex Bravo Panchano. This turn also appears in the Panamania ninvestigations on the Petroecuador case.
The second is for $ 150,000 from Denfield to the Panamanian account of a screen company of a Petroecuador official, whose names do not appear in the document.The third is for $ 349,000 from Panama to Miami, in the name of a financier, to hide the source of the money.
According to the statement of Odebrecht’s director in Ecuador, José Conceição Santos,before the Brazilian authorities, Odebrecht paid Sentinel $ 4,63 million in 18transfers.
In this new indictment of the US justice, the construction company Odebrecht and its participation in the Eloy Alfaro Pacific Refinery, which is a partnership between Petroecuador and its Venezuelan counterpart PDVSA, is cited. The Brazilian company obtained the land movement contract and the La Esperanza aqueduct.
The information of these offshore companies (Denfield and Sentinel) was in the filtration of the Panama Papers, published by EL UNIVERSO in 2016. In the files there were communications in which the contractor Ramiro Luque Flores, owner of GalileoEnergy and final beneficiary of Denfield , he asked Chatburn to open screen signatures for Álex Bravo P. and Arturo Escobar Domínguez, then an advisor to Carlos Pareja Yannuzzelli.
Escobar was also tried in the US, because he pleaded guilty, as well as another advisor to the state oil company, Marcelo Reyes López.
Chatburn is accused of violating the Anti-Corruption Practices Abroad Act (FCPA), because he would have participated in the bribery scheme and contributed to laundering that money in Florida (USA).
Thepurpose of the Chatburn conspiracy and its accomplices, according to the GrandJury, was “its illicit enrichment by making corrupt payments to Petroecuador officials with a view to obtaining and retaining contracts for Galileo (which were granted by the state oil company).”
The document adds that Chatburn and his accomplices used intermediary companies”to channel payments to Petroecuador officials” and “tried tohide the money from the bribes, in exchange for a commission.”
This newspaper has tried to communicate several times with Chatburn and his lawyers,but has never received a response. When he paid the bail, his defense was Andrés Rivero, of the law firm Rivero Mestre, who last October reported that heno longer had the case but the lawyer Howard Srebnick, of the firm Black,Srebnick, Kornspan & Stumpf. He has not answered the interview requests.
The Grand Jury indictment against Frank Chatburn brings together nine possible charges that carry a maximum penalty of 135 years in prison. These penalties do not include other measures that may also be applicable.
The indictment provides four charges for possible money laundering, two for possible conspiracy to commit laundering, two for allegedly violating the FCP Aand one for alleged conspiracy against that act. (I)