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Enforcement Action Dataset

 

Initiation Date:    08/23/2017  Information

Prosecuting Agency:    U.S. Department of Justice

Name of Prosecuting Attorneys:   

  • Abe Martinez, Acting U.S. Attorney
  • John P. Pearson, Deputy Chief
  • Robert S. Johnson, Assistant United States Attorney
  • Sandra L. Moser, Acting Chief, Fraud Section, Criminal Division
  • Aisling O'Shea, Trial Attorney, Fraud Section, Criminal Division
  • Jeremy R. Sanders, Trial Attorney, Fraud Section, Criminal Division
  • Sarah E. Edwards, Trial Attorney, Fraud Section, Criminal Division
  • Kristine Rollinson, Assistant United States Attorney
  • Ryan K. Patrick, United States Attorney

Assisting Agencies:    Internal Revenue Service , Swiss Federal Office of Justice , Spanish Guardia Civil

Type of Action:    DOJ Criminal Proceeding

Docket or Case Number:    17-cr-514

Court:    S.D. Texas

Origin of the Proceeding:    Unknown

Whistleblower:    Unknown

Case Status:    Ongoing


Summary  Information

Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. ("PDVSA"), the state-owned and state-controlled oil company in Venezuela. Among its subsidiaries were Bariven S.A., which was its procurement subsidiary responsible for equipment purchases, and PDVSA Services, Inc., which was PDVSA's U.S.-based affiliate located in Houston, Texas, and which was responsible for international purchasing on behalf of PDVSA

Roberto Enrique Rincon-Fernandez ("Rincon") was a resident of Texas who controlled, together with others, a number of closely held companies, which were used to secure contracts with PDVSA.

Abraham Jose Shiera-Bastidas ("Shiera") was a Venezuelan national who resided in Florida and controlled, together with others, a number of closely held companies, which were used to secure contracts with PDVSA.

Luis Carlos de Leon-Perez ("de Leon"), a dual citizen of the United States and Venezuela, had previously been employed by the Venezuelan government, but was a private citizen during the time at issue.

Nervis Gerardo Villalobos-Cardenas ("Villalobos"), aka "Enano," a citizen of Venezuela, had previously been employed by the Venezuelan government, but was a private citizen during the time at issue.

Cesar David Rincon-Godoy ("Cesar Rincon"), aka "Primo," a citizen of Venezuela, was employed by PDVSA and Bariven, where he worked as the general manager.

Alejando Isturiz-Chiesa ("Isturiz"), aka "Piojo" or "Paulo," a citizen of Venezuela, was an assistant to the president of Bariven.

Rafael Ernesto Reiter-Munoz ("Reiter"), aka "Nadal," a citizen of Venezuela, was head of security and loss prevention at PDVSA.

Javier Alvarado-Ochoa ("Alvarado"), aka "Electrico," a citizen of Venezuela, was the President of Bariven.

Daisy Teresa Rafoi-Bleuler ("Rafoi"), a citizen of Switzerland, was a partner in an unidentified Swiss wealth management firm who acted as an agent of de Leon, Shiera, Rincon, and their U.S.-based companies.

Paulo Jorge da Costa Casquiero-Murta ("MURTA"), a citizen ofPortugal and Switzerland, was an employee of a different Swiss wealth management firm who acted as an agent of De Leon, Shiera, Rincon, and their U.S.-based companies.

According to the allegations made in the indictment, between at least 2011 and 2013, de Leon and Villalobos engaged in a conspiracy with Rincon and Shiera, as well as others, to bribe Venezuelan officials, including Cesar Rincon, Isturiz, and Reiter, at PDVSA and its subsidiaries in order for Rincon and Shiera to obtain lucrative contracts with PDVSA as well as the opportunity to receive payment priority over other PDVSA vendors on outstanding PDVSA invoices. It was further alleged that de Leon and Villalobos directed Rincon and Shiera to pay the bribes through a variety of Swiss bank accounts in an effort to disguise the bribery and to help ensure that Rincon and Shiera did not end up subjects of internal PDVSA investigations.

On August 23, 2017, the DOJ filed a twenty count indictment under seal in the Southern District of Texas against de Leon, Villalobos, Cesar Rincon, Isturiz, and Reiter alleging (1, 3) conspiracy to commit money laundering, (2) conspiracy to violate the anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA, and (4-20) money laundering and aiding and abetting money laundering. The case was unsealed and announced by the DOJ on February 12, 2017.

According to the DOJ press release issued at the time of the unsealing, de Leon, Villalobos, Cesar Rincon, and Reiter were all arrested in Spain in October 2017 by Spanish authorities on arrest warrants based on the indictment filed here.

Spain extradited Cesar Rincon on February 9, 2018, and he made his initial court appearance on February 12. According to the docket in this case, Cesar Rincon pled guilty on April 19, 2018, but the plea agreement remains under seal. On the same date, the court ordered Cesar Rincon to forfeit $7,033,504.71. He is scheduled to be sentenced on November 8, 2021.

On July 13, 2018, the DOJ filed a two count information in the case against de Leon alleging conspiracy to violate the FCPA and to launder money. On July 16, 2018, the DOJ announced that de Leon had entered into a plea agreement, and on October 2, 2020, the court ordered him to forfeit 18,118,783.15. He is scheduled to be sentenced on November 8, 2021.

On April 24, 2019, the DOJ filed a superseding indictment under seal that added Ochoa, Rafoi, and Murta as defendants. The indictment was unsealed on September 4, 2019.

Villalobos and Reiter appear to remain in Spain pending extradition, and Isturiz remains a fugitive.

This case is ongoing.

The DOJ charged Rincon and Shiera in a separate proceeding filed on December 10, 2015.

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