On September 15, 2010, a Los Angeles grand jury indicted Enrique Faustino Aguilar Noriega and Angela Maria Gomez Aguilar for their alleged roles in a conspiracy to bribe officials at Mexican government-owned electric utility company Comision Federal De Electricidad (CFE) and to launder money. The grand jury charged Mr. Aguilar with separate conspiracies to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and to commit money laundering, four substantive violations of the Act and of one count of money laundering. Ms. Aguilar was charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering and substantive money laundering offenses.6

The indictment alleges that the Aguilars used their Mexican company, Grupo Internacional de Asesores S.A. to provide sales representation services to companies that conducted business with CFE, including an Azusa, California-based company.7 From 2002 to 2009, Mr. Aguilar and his coconspirators allegedly devised a scheme as a result of which Mr. Aguilar received a 30 percent commission on the goods and services the Azusa-based company provided to CFE. According to the indictment, he and his co-conspirators understood that the commission would be used to bribe Mexican officials in exchange for CFE awarding contracts to the Azusa company. The company in turn increased the price of the goods and services provided to CFE by 30 percent, resulting in CFE absorbing the costs of the bribes.8

It was further alleged that Enrique Aguilar caused his company to issue fraudulent invoices to the Azusa company that included the 30 percent commissions, and caused the latter company to wire the inflated payments to the Aguilar entity’s brokerage account.9 The Aguilars allegedly laundered the money through their company’s brokerage account in order to conceal the payments made to CFE officials. According to the indictment, the Aguilars purchased a $1.8 million yacht and a $297,500 Ferrari car for a CFE official, paid more than $170,000 to satisfy a CFE official’s American Express bills, and gave approximately $600,000 to relatives of another CFE official.10

The Aguilars are the most recent individuals to be indicted for bribing Mexican CFE officials.11 As reported in the November 2009 FCPA Advisor, John Joseph O’Shea, the former general manager of the Texas office of a U.S. subsidiary of ABB Ltd. (ABB), has been charged with numerous violations of the FCPA, the money laundering laws, and for falsifying records.12 O’Shea was accused of bribing CFE officials in return for ABB being awarded lucrative contracts. The government also charged Fernando Maya Basurto, a Mexican citizen and the principal of a Mexican company that served as the sales representative for ABB on CFE contracts. Basurto pleaded guilty in November 2009 and has been cooperating in the investigation. He has admitted that he had conspired to make illegal payments to CFE officials, aided in laundering the illicit funds and submitted false invoices and correspondence to cover up the scheme.13

According to the DOJ press release on the O’Shea matter, ABB discovered the alleged scheme during an internal investigation after almost $900,000 had already been paid to CFE officials.14 According to O’Shea’s indictment, after learning of ABB’s self-disclosure to the U.S. and Mexican authorities, O’Shea and others sought to conceal their scheme by creating backdated correspondence purporting to show that work that had actually been performed by the intermediary companies.