Petroecuador State appears in the United States as a victim of bribes
With a view to receiving reparation, Petroecuador requested that he be considered a victim in the trial that is being processed in the Southern District Court of Florida for the scheme of bribes that he operated in the state oil company between 2012 and 2016, during the Citizen Revolution.
On November 26, Petroecuador, represented by Squire Patton Boggs attorneys, requested a hearing to present its arguments before the Court that has determined payments of more than $ 3.2 million in bribes. That money went through the United States, Switzerland, Panama, Bahamas and Cayman Islands, and was used to buy properties in Miami. This case was initiated by the revelations of the Panama Papers, published by this Journal in 2016.
In the request, the cases against six people are cited: former officials Marcelo Reyes López, former legal coordinator, and Arturo Escobar Domínguez, former counselor of Carlos Pareja Yannuzzelli; the contractors Ramiro Luque Flores, of GalileoEnergy S.A., and Juan Andrés Baquerizo Escobar, of Oil Services & Solutions; and the intermediaries José Larrea and Frank Roberto Chatburn Ripalda.
Juan Andrés Baquerizo admitted his fault in the United States in case Petroecuador
The only one who has not pleaded guilty is Chatburn. The court has already sentenced Larrea, Reyes López and Escobar Domínguez. While the sentence of Baquerizo Escobar will be given on January 18, 2019 and Luque will testify in the coming days.
GalileoEnergy S.A., owned by Luque and his wife, Glenda Marianela Meza Bracho, received $ 38.1 million in seven contracts for handling caustic soda at the Esmeraldas Refinery.
While Oil Services & Solutions, in which the brothers Juan Andrés and Jaime Alberto Baquerizo Escobar participated, received contracts for $ 37 million to carry out works in the refineries of Esmeraldas and La Libertad.
Petroecuador’s attorneys reveal in their request that Chatburn contacted Ramiro Luque with José Larrea to help him hide the source of the money.
Thus, in October 2016, Larrea creates a false bill of exchange for $ 500,000 and false invoices to justify payments.
Between November 2016 and October 2017, $ 1 million was transferred to Larrea’s account to benefit Luque. Of that money, $ 338,000 went to an account of a relative of Luque and $ 600,000 to a company’s account.
According to the document, Larrea withheld at least $ 53,780 as his fees for helping to hide the money.
Larrea met with Luque Flores several times, and despite the fact that at the beginning of 2017 he knew that the owner of GalileoEnergy was under investigation, “he continued to help Luque and Chatburn in their corrupt schemes,” Petroecuador says in his letter.
Almost all this information comes from the confession made by Larrea himself to the US authorities. Larrea has already been sentenced to 27 months in prison.
Petroecuador’s arguments are based on the fact that to pay bribes the costs of the works increased. “Once they are washed, the profits of the corrupt scheme are distributed among the accomplices leaving the victim with the account,” the state oil company sustains.
In the United States there is a Law for the Compulsory Restitution of Victims (MRVA) and based on this rule, Petroecuador requests the hearing to be considered a victim.
The figure that Petroecuador expects to receive is not indicated, it is only mentioned that in the accusation against Chatburn there is talk of bribes for $ 3.27 million.
Rebekah Poston, from the Squire Patton Boggs studio, responded to this Journal that at the moment he could not give statements. For its part, Petroecuador asked for more time to give an interview on the subject. (I)