Florida Man charged in Venezuelan bribery scheme

Wess Haubrich

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Naman WakilMiami Herald

According to prosecutors, the scheme translated to around $250 million in ill-gotten funds

A Syrian man living in south Florida found himself in legal scalding water recently for a most unique reason.

59-year-old Naman Wakil appeared in federal court in Miami last Wednesday facing indictment on a slew of graft charges involving the government of Venezuela.

Charges include conspiracy to commit money laundering, “international promotional money laundering”, three counts of engaging in transactions that involved criminally derived property and violating a law called the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

“International promotional money laundering” is a little understood concept even in legal circles. “Promotional money laundering” was one of the charges leveled against ex-Trump advisor Paul Manafort. It can also be used by the feds to go after people investing in legitimate marijuana businesses. Basically, it involves your basic money laundering (disguising the source of illegal cash) but done in a way that promotes other kinds of criminality.

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 was intended as a way to go after bribery where a citizen pays someone in a foreign government to obtain business. So, this is basically a law against a certain type of bribery.

According to court documents, Wakil bribed officials with Corporación de Abastecimiento y Servicios Agrícola and Petróleos de Venezuela – the state-run enterprise concerned with energy and food production – and received somewhere north of $250 million in contracts with them.

Investigators further allege Wakil laundered some of those ill-gotten funds through south Florida banks. This also included purchasing around 10 apartment units, a $3.5 million jet, and a $1.5 million yacht.

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Former editor, now dogged-maverick journalist and researcher covering the crime beat. I examine the weird, absurd, and downright infamous in American crime both here and at Real Monsters podcast. Contact: wess@realmonsters.live

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