An Aruban telecom official pleaded guilty to money laundering charges in connection with a scheme to arrange and receive corrupt payments to influence the awarding of contracts in Aruba. The DOJ’s press release describes the company as an Aruban state-owned company. According to his plea agreement, a Dutch citizen living in Florida operated a money laundering conspiracy between 2005 and 2016 in his position as the company’s product manager. An individual who owned several Florida-based telecommunications companies, previously pleaded guilty to paying bribes to the official and his wife.
The official admitted that he conspired with the individual and others to transmit funds from Florida and elsewhere in the United States to Aruba and Panama with the intent to promote a wire fraud scheme and a corrupt scheme that violated the FCPA. The official was promised and received bribes from individuals and companies located in the United States and abroad in exchange for using his position at the company to award lucrative mobile phone and accessory contracts. The official also admitted to providing favored vendors with confidential company information in exchange for the more than $1.3 million in corrupt payments.
The company filed a civil complaint against the official and other parties on March 3 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, which contains a few points of note. First, the company describes itself in the complaint as a privatized company, whereas the DOJ’s press release called it an instrumentality of the Aruban government. Second, the complaint states that the company became aware of some of the official's alleged activities via the Panama Papers, the 2016 leak of over 11 million documents from Panamanian law firm and financial services provider Mossack Fonseca.