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The Matassini Law Firm, P.A. Your trusted legal advisors since 1976

Florida Man Arrested For Defrauding Venezuela


Venezuela was once the poster child for effective socialism. After decades of government corruption, U.S. embargoes, and the alienation of their populace, Venezuela is in difficult financial and social constraints. A growing number of citizens are becoming aware that their government’s poor choices and corruption have led to the impoverishment of their nation, and now at least, we have at least one example of how this happened.

A U.S. resident is accused of defrauding the Venezuelan government of millions of dollars related to the purchase of necessary materials. In one case, the defendant purchased pipes from China for about $1 million that he later sold to the Venezuelan government for nearly $11 million. All told, the defendant gained access to $250 million in lucrative Venezuelan contracts with severely inflated costs.

The defendant has been charged in accord with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. He has also been charged with money laundering and engaging in transactions involving criminally acquired property. The defendant is the brother-in-law of a former Venezuelan official.

The U.S. sanctioned the Venezuelan official after the socialist country’s national audit showed that the brother-in-law was complicit in swindling the country of $573 million that was earmarked for their food program.

Understanding the charges 

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act is highlighted by anti-bribery restrictions. Essentially, it prohibits American citizens from unjustly enriching themselves. The legislation makes it illegal to pay a foreign official on a quid pro quo basis. As an example, paying a corrupt official to look the other way as your country’s food program is fleeced by unscrupulous rich people while the population is starving and staring at barren shelves would be a fine example of a crime under the law. As it stands, however, it is unclear if it was the country’s own socialism that caused the problem or greedy rich foreigners who attempted to cripple the Venezuelan government by bankrupting it.

The choice to prosecute a man who played a vital role in crippling an enemy government is certainly interesting. But the law doesn’t necessarily care about the politics of the situation, or at least, it’s not supposed to. One would expect that the American government would attempt something of the sort to hurt Venezuela and their marketing of socialism as a potential alternative to capitalism. However, all they’ve managed to do is prove why centralizing authority is such a dangerous game. In this case, the Venezuelan government sold out its own people so that one of them could live a life of luxury. There will be those who use this as an example of why socialism doesn’t work, while others will blame greed and capitalist influences for toppling Venezuela’s economy. In the end, no one will be swayed either way by this event. The same party lines will be maintained.

Facing Federal Charges? Talk to a Tampa Criminal Defense Attorney! 

If you’ve been charged with fleecing a foreign government of nearly half a billion dollars, then you will need a federal defense attorney to handle your case. The aforementioned defendant faces an estimated 80 years in prison for these charges. Call the Tampa criminal defense lawyers at The Matassini Law Firm today to discuss the matter in more detail and allow us to begin preparing your defense.


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