A Tale of Corruption
Naman Wakil is indicted in the South Florida Court. The Grand Jury indictment describes how he defrauded Petropiar, PetroMirada and CASA. Read on for how a tale of government overreach and corruption and money laundering finds a home in Miami. Really finds a home, by buying Miami apartments.
By Maibort Petit
In the Southern District Court of Florida, the Grand Jury charged Naman Wakil with seven charges related to money laundering activities of funds allegedly originating from bribes to Venezuelan officials with the aim of obtaining contracts from the state-owned Petróleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA ) and the food company Corporación de Abastecimiento y Servicios Agrícola (CASA).
Specifically, the charges against Wakil are Conspiracy to Violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act; conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act; Conspiracy to commit money laundering; International laundering of monetary instruments; and Participate in transactions with property derived from the crime.
The protagonists and parties involved in the plot
The indictment notes, first, that Naman Wakil is a Syrian citizen with legal residence in the United States who maintained personal and investment bank accounts with banks in the United States, the Cayman Islands, and Switzerland.
Then the Agricultural Supply and Services Corporation (CASA) was pointed out, it was the Venezuelan state food company that served as the "instrumentality" of the Venezuelan government, according to the terms established in the Foreign Corrupt Practices Law (FCPA).
Meanwhile, Venezuelan official 1 is a senior member of CASA from 2010 to 2011, who, according to the FCPA, meets the definition stipulated there of "foreign official." The same occurs with the Venezuelan official 2 who worked at CASA from 2011 to 2014.
The Wakil companies that received funds from CASA are referred to in the indictment as the "Wakil Food Companies", some of which had bank accounts in Switzerland and the Cayman Islands.
For its part, Petróleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA) is the Venezuelan state oil company that controls the subsidiaries Petropiar SA and Petromiranda SA, which served as "instrumentalities" of the Venezuelan government, while their officials and employees were "foreign officials." , as those terms are used in the FCPA.
As the Venezuelan Official 3, a senior Petromiranda official is identified who between 2014 and 2017 served as a “foreign official”, according to that term issued in the FCPA. Venezuelan official 4 was a senior Petropiar official between 2015 and 2017 who also served as a "foreign official," according to the FCPA.
The Naman Wakil companies that received funds from Petropiar and Petromiranda are referred to in the indictment as Wakil Oil Company 1 and 2, which had bank accounts in the United States.
As co-conspirators, the prosecution first points to who it identifies with number 1, who is a Venezuelan who meets the profile of "person" established in the FCPA. The number 2 indicates a Venezuelan, a relative of the Venezuelan Officer 2. The number 3 and 4 designates two Venezuelans with the functions of the “person” of the FCPA. Finally, as co-conspirator 5 is a Venezuelan resident of the United States who, according to the terms of the FCPA, was a "national concern."
Bribes to CASA officials
Regarding the charge of Conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of which Wakil is accused, it is said that he acted intentionally to commit the crime.
It is indicated that Naman Wakil had become a domestic concern by using the post office, the means and instruments of interstate commerce to bribe foreign officials and individuals, in order to obtain contracts and advantages for his companies. Similarly, Wakil used the mail, media, and instruments of interstate commerce to bribe a foreign official, to assist co-conspirators 1, 2, 3, 4, and others to obtain and retain contracts for their companies and others. All this for the purpose of getting rich illegally.
The accusation explains that Naman Wakil and his associates carried out their activities in the Southern District of Florida and elsewhere, from where they offered to pay bribes, directly and indirectly, to foreign officials in Venezuela, namely, Venezuelan officials 1, 2 , 3 and 4 to secure the award of contracts and provide business advantages to Wakil and its companies.
Wakil and his partners used the “Wakil Food Companies” as well as bank accounts in the Cayman Islands, Switzerland, Panama and elsewhere to promote the illegal bribery scheme and conceal its nature and purpose.
It is noted that, in 2010, Naman Wakil met with Venezuelan Officer 1 at his offices in Caracas, Venezuela and agreed to make corrupt payments to him to obtain and retain for his companies with CASA.
From January 2010 to June 2011, Naman Wakil received approximately USD 30 million via wire transfers from CASA to a bank account located in the Cayman Islands in the name of “Wakil Food Company 1”.
In August and September 2010, Wakil transferred $ 750,000 in bribe payments from the Wakil Food Company 1 bank account in the Cayman Islands to a South Florida bank account for the benefit of Venezuelan official 1. Payments were concealed with invoices false to the bank in the Cayman Islands indicating logistics services and customs procedures.
In December 2011 or 2012, Naman Wakil met with Venezuelan Officer 2 in Caracas and agreed to make corrupt payments to him to obtain and retain contracts and business advantages, with CASA. Wakil agreed to pay the bribes to a relative of Venezuelan Officer 2.
In 2012, Wakil urged co-conspirator 1 to open bank accounts in Switzerland for the benefit of co-conspirator 2 and Venezuelan Official 2.
From 2012 to 2015, Naman Wakil received approximately USD 225 million via wire transfers from CASA to bank accounts of Wakil Food Companies in Switzerland.
From 2012 to around 2014, Wakil transferred $ 11 million in bribe payments from Wakil Food Companies accounts in Switzerland to a Swiss bank account controlled by co-conspirator 2 for the benefit of Venezuelan Official 2. These payments were concealed with false invoices to the bank in Switzerland falsely indicating logistics services and customs procedures.
The indictment claims in connection with the corrupt CASA contracts that Naman Wakil transferred at least $ 50 million to his personal account in Switzerland. Of these funds, he transferred at least $ 20 million to personal accounts in his name in Miami, which he used to buy, among other things, ten apartments in South Florida, a $ 3.5 million airplane and a $ 1 yacht. , 5 million.
Bribes to PDVSA officials
Likewise, on the same charge of Conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the indictment establishes that in 2014, Naman Wakil met with Venezuelan Officer 3 and co-conspirator 5 in his offices in Miami, and agreed to the payment of bribes to the Venezuelan Official 3 in order to obtain and retain contracts and commercial advantages for its oil companies with Petromiranda.
It adds that, in 2014, the Venezuelan Official 3 sent an email to co-conspirator 3 requesting the payment of USD 100,000 to an account of a shell company in Panama. Cocospirator 3 transmitted the order to Wakil and he ordered payment.
In 2015, Naman Wakil received USD 7.7 million into a Wakil Oil Company 1 bank account in the United States in connection with a Petromiranda contract.
In 2015, Wakil transferred USD 250,000 from the bank account of Wakil Oil Company 1 to a corporate account in the United States for the benefit of the Venezuelan Official 3.
That same year, Naman Wakil had an email sent to the Venezuelan Official 4 to obtain contracts for Wakil Oil Company 2 with Petropiar. He then ordered co-conspirator 1 to open a bank account in the name of a shell company for the benefit of Venezuelan Officer 4 in Panama.
In 2015, the co-conspirator 3 received documents by email from a close relative of the Venezuelan Official 4, including the passport, to open a bank account for a shell company in Panama.
In 2015, Wakil got the Venezuelan official 4 to approve a $ 11.2 million contract for Petropiar to buy pipes. Wakil bought these pipes in China for USD 1.3 million, that is, an operation that had a markup of nine times the cost of the pipes. To conceal and disguise the beneficiaries of the Petropiar contract, Wakil had the payments from the PDVSA subsidiary made to a corporate account of co-conspirator 4 in Miami.
From January 2016 to July 2016, Naman Wakil caused Petropiar to transfer approximately $ 11.2 million to co-conspirator 4's corporate account in Miami in connection with the Petropiar pipeline purchase. The payments were concealed causing multiple wire transfers from co-conspirator 4's corporate account in Miami to an account controlled by co-conspirator 1 in Panama. Following this, Wakil and his partners caused additional wire transfers from co-conspirator 1's account in Panama to Wakil Oil Company 2 accounts in the United States.
In 2017 Wakil met with Venezuelan Official 4 and co-conspirator 5 at their offices in Miami to discuss the bribery of Venezuelan Official 4 related to the Petropiar pipeline contract and purchase order. Wakil transferred ownership of a condominium valued at approximately USD 300,000 in Miami to a corporate entity controlled by a close relative of the Venezuelan Official 4.
An apartment in exchange for a contract
On the second count of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the indictment indicates that Naman Wakil, through mail and interstate commerce media and instruments used in a corrupt manner, promoted bribery and delivery of anything of value to a foreign official and a person, to obtain and retain business for him and his companies.
It is specified that Wakil had an email sent in relation to the transfer of ownership of a condominium in Miami, Florida for an approximate value of USD 300,000 on September 1, 2017, for the benefit of the Venezuelan Officer 4.
The third charge
Regarding count 3 of Conspiracy to commit money laundering, the accusation states that Naman Wakil had a monetary instrument and funds transferred from outside the United States to the interior of the country, to promote the realization of a specific illegal activity.
These were financial transactions that affect interstate and foreign commerce, since they involve the product of an illegal activity, disguising the nature, location, source, ownership and control of the income of said illegal activity.
The purpose of the conspiracy was for the defendant and his co-conspirators to illegally enrich themselves by bribing Venezuelan officials to obtain and retain contracts and other business advantages, including obtaining payment for multi-million dollar contracts with Venezuelan-controlled entities and instrumentalities.
For the International Money Laundering charge, the indictment notes that Naman Wakil, transferred a monetary instrument and funds from a location in the United States to and through a location outside the United States and to a location in the United States to and from. through a location outside the United States, with the intent to promote the conduct of an illegal activity.
USD 800,000 was transferred from a bank account in Miami, Florida to a bank account in Panama, controlled by co-conspirator 1.
The other charges
Charges from 5 to 7 for Participating in transactions with property derived from the crime, indicate that Naman Waki caused the participation in a monetary transaction that affected interstate commerce, for a value greater than USD 10,000, said property having been derived from an illegal activity specific, and knowing that the property involved in the financial transactions represented the proceeds of some form of illegal activity.
These activities are described as follows:
Wakil properties subject to forfeiture
The indictment points to a number of Naman Wakil properties subject to forfeiture if found guilty, namely:
a) a judgment of confiscation of money for a minimum amount of USD 50 million;
b) property located at 3535 Hiawatha Avenue, Unit 602, Miami, Florida 331334;
c) property located at 68 SE 6 Street, Unit 2511, Miami, Florida 33131;
d) property located at 68 SE 6 Street, Unit 2911, Miami, Florida 33131;
e) real property located at 4500 North Miami Avenue, Miami, Florida 33127;
f) property located at 4510N North Miami Avenue, Miami, Florida 33127;
g) property located at 92 SW 3 Street, Unit 4806, Miami, Florida 33130;
h) property located at 92 SW 3 Street, Unit 5006, Miami, Florida 33130;
i) real property located at 257 West Main Avenue, Gastonia, NC 28052;
j) property located at 18555 Collins Avenue, Unit 2605, Miami, Florida 33160;
k) property located at 888 Brickell Key Drive # 1512, Miami, Florida 33131 .;
l) real property located at 1010 Brickell Avenue, Unit 3509, Miami, Florida 33131;
m) real property located at 1010 Brickell Avenue, Unit 4310, Miami, Florida 33131;
n) real property located at 1010 Brickell Avenue, Unit 4610, Miami Florida 33131;
o) real property located at Brickell Avenue, Unit 4710, Miami, Florida 33131;
q) the content of the Synovus Bank account number 05312001015335423 in the name of Wakilisimo LLC;
r) the content of the Synovus Bank account number 07081901013876345 in the name of Naman Wakil; s) the contents of United Bank (formerly Carolina Trust Bank) account number 0700017114 in the name of Naman Wakil and Souheil A. “Tony” Azar; t) the contents of United Bank (formerly known as Carolina Trust Bank) account number 700015258 in the name of Wakil Properties LLC; u) the contents of United Bank (formerly known as Carolina Trust Bank account number 700015266 in the name of Wakilisimo LLC.