DOJ Turns FCPA Spotlight on Financial Services Sector as Enforcement Efforts in Latin America Continue

Last week, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced the indictment of two employees of a U.S. broker-dealer, Direct Access Partners, and a senior official in Venezuela’s state economic development bank, Banco de Desarrollo Económico y Social de Venezuela (BANDES), for violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), the Travel Act and money laundering statutes. This latest indictment signals DOJ’s continuing focus on corruption in Latin America, and demonstrates DOJ’s willingness to dedicate FCPA enforcement resources to new industries, such as the financial services sector.

The criminal complaint alleges that Direct Access Partners established a Global Markets Group that offered fixed-income trading services to institutional clients, including BANDES. In return for directing BANDES’s business to Direct Access Partners, Tomas Alberto Clarke Bethancourt (Clarke) and Jose Alejandro Hurtado (Hurtado) paid bribes in the form of monthly kickbacks to Maria de los Angeles Gonzales de Hernandez (Gonzalez), a BANDES official who oversaw BANDES’s overseas trading activity. Clarke and Hurtado paid Gonzalez at least $5 million, splitting with her a substantial share of the revenue generated by Direct Access Partners for BANDES-related trades. The criminal complaint alleges that these payments were often made through intermediary corporations and offshore accounts located in Switzerland and other places.

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