FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018
Public Affairs Officer
HOUSTON – A former manager of a U.S.-based logistics and
freight forwarding company pleaded guilty to a foreign bribery charge today for
his role in a scheme to corruptly secure contracts and contract extensions from
Venezuela’s state-owned and state-controlled energy company, Petroleos de
Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA). The guilty plea of the bribed foreign official was also
U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick of the Southern District of
Texas, Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice
Department’s Criminal Division and Special Agent in Charge Mark Dawson of U.S.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations’ (HSI)
Houston Field Office made the announcement.
Juan Carlos Castillo Rincon (Castillo), 55, of Conroe,
previously of Miami, Florida, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Nancy
K. Johnson of the Southern District of Texas in Houston to one count of
conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). Castillo is
scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 21, 2019 by U.S. District Judge Gray H. Miller
of the Southern District of Texas.
Judge Johnson also unsealed the guilty plea of Jose
Orlando Camacho (Camacho), 46, of Miami, Florida, previously of Katy, the PDVSA official whom Castillo bribed. In
July 2017, Camacho pleaded guilty under seal before Judge Miller to conspiracy
to commit money laundering. Camacho is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 21, 2019
by Judge Miller.
“These guilty pleas reflect the hard work of agents and
investigators and mark another step in the joint effort to combat foreign
corruption,” said U.S. Attorney Patrick. “Our office will continue to prosecute
those who bribe foreign officials or use our financial networks to launder the
proceeds of these bribes.”
“Corruption undermines the rule of law, tilts the playing
field away from law-abiding businesses, and exposes our financial system to the
distorting effects of illicit cash flows,” said Assistant Attorney General
Benczkowski. “The guilty pleas announced
today are the latest in a series of actions arising out of an ongoing investigation
of bribery at PDVSA. The Department will
continue to combat corruption wherever we find it.”
“Foreign bribery schemes like this pose a significant
threat to the public trust and fair trade practices,” said HSI Houston Special
Agent in Charge Dawson. “Today’s pleas are a step in the right direction, but
we will continue to aggressively investigate individuals and corporations who
violate the FCPA to ensure a fair and equal playing field for U.S. companies
Castillo was arrested in Miami on April 19, after a
federal grand jury returned a five-count indictment against him. According to
admissions made in connection with Castillo’s plea, beginning in or around 2011
and continuing through at least 2013, Castillo, a manager at a Houston-based
logistics and freight forwarding company, conspired with others to bribe a
PDVSA official in exchange for the official providing assistance in connection
with the company’s business with PDVSA.
In exchange for bribe payments, the PDVSA official assisted the company
in obtaining PDVSA contracts, contract extensions and favorable contract terms;
provided Castillo with inside information concerning the PDVSA bidding process;
and supported the company in internal PDVSA meetings regarding purchasing
As part of his guilty plea, Camacho admitted that while
employed by PDVSA or its wholly owned subsidiaries or affiliates, he accepted
bribes from Castillo and the logistics and freight forwarding company for which
Castillo was a manager in exchange for taking certain actions to assist the
company in its business with PDVSA. Camacho also admitted he conspired with
Castillo to launder the proceeds of the bribery scheme.
As part of their plea agreements, both Castillo and
Camacho have agreed to forfeit the proceeds of their criminal activity.
With Castillo’s plea today and the unsealing of Camacho’s
plea, the Justice Department has announced charges against 18 individuals, 14
of whom have pleaded guilty, as part of a larger, ongoing investigation by the
U.S. government into bribery at PDVSA. The HSI Houston Field Office is
conducting the ongoing investigation with assistance from HSI in Boston and
from IRS Criminal Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys John P. Pearson and
Robert S. Johnson and Trial Attorneys Jeremy R. Sanders and Sarah E. Edwards of
the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section are prosecuting the case. Assistant U.S.
Attorney Kristine Rollinson is handling the forfeiture aspects of the case.
The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs and
the Cayman Islands’ Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions also provided
The Fraud Section is responsible for investigating and
prosecuting all FCPA matters. Additional information about the Justice
Department’s FCPA enforcement efforts can be found at www.justice.gov/criminal/fraud/fcpa<http://www.justice.gov/criminal/fraud/fcpa>.