Billion-Dollar Money Laundering Conspiracy, Former Oil Exec Pleads Guilty

Billion-Dollar Money Laundering Conspiracy, Former Oil Exec Pleads Guilty

Abraham Edgardo Ortega, a Venezuelan national, pleaded guilty for his role in a billion-dollar international money laundering scheme. Ortega was the executive director of financial planning for the Venezuelan state-owned oil company, Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA). He pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Money laundering can be understood as turning  money gained through illicit means, or “dirty” money, into “clean” money, or money that cannot easily be traced back to criminal activity. It is the process by which proceeds of illegal activity can be made to look like it comes from legitimate sources.

As part of his guilty plea, Ortega “admitted that in his position with PDVSA he accepted $5 million in bribes to give priority loan status to a French company and a Russian bank, which were both minority shareholders in joint ventures with PDVSA.” The money paid to Ortega for his bribery scheme were proceeds from a currency exchange scheme involving PDVSA, bribery, fraud, and the embezzlement of $1.2 billion.

Ortega further admitted to conspiring with a co-defendant in a $12 million money laundering scheme. He received the $12 million as bribe payments. The money laundering involved a false-investment scheme that received money from a payment devised to look like an investment, but was actually a laundered payment from an investment fund. The Department of Justice alleges that this false-investment scheme included complicit money managers, brokerage firms, banks and real estate investments firms in the United States and elsewhere, and that it was an extensive operation of professional money launderers.

Charges for money laundering can be charged under federal statutes, as in the case against Ortega, or under Arizona state statutes. If you are facing criminal charges for money laundering, you need a fierce white collar criminal defense attorney on your side to mount a strong legal defense against the government’s allegations.

Defending Against Charges of Money Laundering

Charges for Money Laundering are serious felony charges that can carry stiff penalties and prison time. Mounting a strong defense as early as possible helps ensure the best possible outcome in your case.

When you hire us, we will thoroughly investigate the evidence and we may be able to dismantle the case against you. Perhaps allegations have been made unfairly against you and you had no knowledge of the alleged criminal activity, or you were merely acting in the scope of your employment, or you were duped into managing funds that were gained through alleged illegal activity.

As a former fraud prosecutor with the United States Attorney’s Office, Ashley D. Adams understands the government’s tactics and knows how to establish the best possible defense for your case. We know how to combat aggressive prosecutors.

Contact us or call now (480) 219-1366 for a consultation.


The attorneys at Ashley D. Adams, PLC handle state criminal cases throughout Arizona and federal criminal cases throughout the United States, including Arizona, Oklahoma, Utah, and California.