A former Ecuadorean comptroller general appeared in a Miami courtroom on Tuesday to face charges he laundered money in the U.S. to hide the proceeds of a bribery scheme partially tied to Brazil-based construction company Odebrecht SA.
U.S. authorities have accused
Carlos Ramon Polit Faggioni
of soliciting and receiving more than $10 million in bribes from Odebrecht between approximately 2010 and 2016 in exchange for using his position to benefit the company and its Ecuador business.
The U.S. Justice Department also alleges an Ecuadorean businessman bribed Mr. Polit around 2015 to help him obtain contracts from Seguros Sucre SA, the state-owned Ecuadorean insurance company. Another member of the conspiracy helped hide the bribery proceeds by using Florida companies registered in the names of associates, often without their knowledge, according to the Justice Department.
The co-conspirators used the bribery gains to purchase and renovate real estate in South Florida, among other places, and to buy restaurants and other businesses, according to the Justice Department.
The department charged Mr. Polit with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, three counts of concealing money laundering and two counts of engaging in transactions in criminally derived property.
A lawyer representing Mr. Polit declined to comment.
Mr. Polit faces up to 20 years in prison for each count of money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering if convicted, and up to 10 years for each count of engaging in transactions in criminally derived property, the Justice Department said. A pretrial detention hearing is set for April 1 in Miami.
Odebrecht was the target of Brazil’s so-called Operation Car Wash, a sweeping probe that exposed widespread corruption among Latin America’s corporate and political leadership.
U.S. prosecutors said Odebrecht effectively maintained a “department of bribery” that paid more than $700 million to officials around the world. Odebrecht in 2016 entered into settlements with authorities in the U.S., Brazil and Switzerland, and last year changed its name to Novonor.
Write to David Smagalla at [email protected]
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