Anti-Bribery Compliance: Recipients of Bribes

In terms of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), its prohibitions do not directly address those who solicit or are the recipients of bribes.  However, in certain situations, the U.S. Department of Justice may use the money laundering statutes and even the Travel Act to pursue the recipients of bribes or improper inducements.  One of those situations is suggested by the superseding indictment in United States v. De Jongh in the Southern District of Texas.1

The defendant, De Jongh, was an employee of Citgo, a wholly-owned subsidiary of PDVSA, a state-owned and state-controlled Venezuela oil company.  Citgo was indirectly owned and controlled by PDVSA and, accordingly, an instrumentality of the Venezuela government.2  As an employee of a parastatal or government-owned or controlled entity, De Jongh was a foreign official under the terms of the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions.3

De Jongh was in a critical position of a unit that dealt with procurement opportunities with PDVSA.4  In exchange for providing information and assistant that would facilitate the awarding business to certain individuals and entities, De Jongh is alleged to have been the recipient of payments and other forms of improper inducements.5  He is alleged to have directed that the payments be made to accounts in the names of relatives and associates as well as to offshore accounts.6  False invoices were created to justify the payments.7

The essence of what is alleged in the superseding indictment is commercial or private bribery and more colloquially referred to as a form of kickbacks.  Indeed, a violation of the Travel Act is alleged for violating Texas’ commercial bribery statute.8  In addition, De Jongh is alleged to have been a recipient of bribes that violated the anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA.  A violation of the FCPA or Travel Act serve as predicates for money laundering violations.9

While issues of comity may at times limit what action the Justice Department may take as to recipients of bribes, those considerations were not exercised with respect to De Jongh.  At all relevant times, he resided in the United States and became a U.S. citizen.  As a practical matter, no basis existed with respect to any consideration of comity.


1Superseding Indictment, United States v. de Jongh-Attemcio, No. H-20-CR-305-S-1 (S.D. Tex., Dec. 16, 2020), ECF No. 35.

218 U.S.C. §§ 78dd-2(h)(2)(A); 78dd-3(f)(2)(A).

3Id., §§ 78dd-2(h)(2)(A); 78dd-3(f)(2)(A).

4Superseding Indictment, at ¶ 4, United States v. De Jongh, supra note 1.

5Id., at ¶¶ 23-24, 58.

6Id., at ¶ 25.

7Id., at ¶ 25.

8Id., at ¶ 55.

918 U.S.C. § 1956(c)(7)(A), (D).

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