[Just when you think 2020 can’t get any more strange, there were no SEC FCPA enforcement actions during the final days of September. Why is this strange? Because as highlighted in this prior post, approximately 15% of SEC FCPA enforcement actions in recent years have occurred during the last week of September. This was the first year since 2014 that there was not an SEC FCPA enforcement action in the final days prior to the SEC’s fiscal year ending on September 30th. COVID-19 related? Perhaps, but through three quarters thus far in 2020 FCPA enforcement has been generally consistent with prior years numbers].

Prior posts here and here highlighted the DOJ’s recent Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement action against Sargeant Marine (SMI) in connection with bribery schemes in Brazil, Venezuela, and Ecuador.

This post highlights the related individual actions against seven individuals (five individuals for FCPA offenses and two alleged foreign officials for money laundering). What is interesting is that there were no individual charges in connection with the Ecuador conduct alleged in the SMI enforcement action and that the individual action began in September 2017 –  a full three years prior to the SMI enforcement action.

FCPA Actions

In a December 2019 criminal information, Daniel Sargeant (an executive and part owner of SMI whose responsibilities “included seeking, approving, and overseeing contracts with Petrobras and PDVSA) was charged with conspiracy to violate the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions in connection with the Brazil and Venezuela conduct alleged in the SMI matter. Sargeant was also charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering. According to the case docket, Sargeant pled guilty to the charges in December 2019.

In an August 2018 criminal information, Jose Tomas Meneses (a Venezuelan citizen and legal permanent resident of the U.S. who worked as a trader at SMI between 2012 through 2018) was charged with conspiracy to violate the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions. According to the case docket, Meneses pled guilty in August 2018.

In a March 2018 criminla information, David Diaz (a citizen of Venezuela and a naturalized U.S. citizen who worked as an agent for SMI between 2002 and 2018) was charged with two counts of conspiracy to violate the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions. According to the case docket, Diaz plead guilty in March 2018.

In a November 2017 criminal information, Roberto Finocchi (a U.S. citizen who worked in the U.S. as a trader for SMI and related companies from 2006 through 2017 and whose responsibilities including seeking contracts with Petrobras) was charged with conspiracy to violate the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions. According to the case docket, Finocchi pled guilty in November 2017.

In a September 2017 criminal information, Luiz Eduardo Andrade (a Brazilian national who from 2009 through 2016 worked in Brazil and the U.S. as an agent for SMI whose responsibilities included seeking contracts for SMI with Petrobras) was charged with conspiracy to violate the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions. According to the case docket, Andrade pled guilty in September 2017.

“Foreign Official” Actions

In a February 2020 criminal information, Daniel Comoretto (a citizen of Venezuela who was a manager at PDVSA involved in the trading of asphalt between 2010 and 2013) was charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering. From the case docket, it appears that Comoretto was arrested in Tennessee in September 2020.

In a March 2019 criminal information, Hector Nunez Troyano (a dual citizen of Spain and Venezuela who was an employee at PDVSA between 2008 and 2015 and was involved in the sale of PDVSA asphalt) was charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering. According to the case docket, Troyano pled guilty in March 2019.

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