Swiss Bank executive gets 10 years for Venezuela graft case

By Lalit K Jha

Washington, Oct 30 (PTI) A former Swiss bank executive has been sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for his role in a USD 1.2 billion international scheme to launder funds embezzled from Venezuela's state-owned oil company Petrleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA), the US Justice department has said.

Matthias Krull, 44, a German national and Panamanian resident, had pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering on August 22. The former managing director and vice chairman of a Swiss bank, Krull has also been ordered to pay a fine in the amount of USD 50,000 and a forfeiture money judgment of USD 600,000, the Department of Justice said on Monday.

The PDVSA is Venezuela's primary source of income and foreign currency namely, US Dollars and Euros.

As part of his guilty plea, the Department of Justice said Krull admitted that in his position with the Swiss bank, he attracted private clients, particularly clients from Venezuela, to the bank.

In this role, Krull's clients included Francisco Convit Guruceaga, who was indicted on money laundering charges on August 16. His clients also included three unnamed conspirators described in the August 16 indictment.

Krull admitted that the conspiracy began in December 2014 with a currency exchange scheme that was designed to embezzle around USD 600 million from PDVSA, obtained through bribery and fraud and the conspirators' efforts to launder a portion of the proceeds of that scheme.

By May 2015, the conspiracy had doubled in amount to USD 1.2 billion embezzled from PDVSA, federal prosecutors alleged.

Krull joined the conspiracy in or around 2016, he admitted, when a co-conspirator contacted him to launder the proceeds of a PDVSA foreign-exchange embezzlement scheme.

Ultimately, Krull joined the conspiracy to launder USD 1.2 billion worth of funds that were embezzled from PDVSA, he admitted.

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