HOUSTON - Charges have been unsealed against six individuals, all of whom have pleaded guilty for their involvement in schemes to bribe Mexican officials to secure aircraft maintenance and repair contracts with government-owned and controlled entities. Two others are charged with conspiring to launder the proceeds of the schemes.
The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Internal Revenue Service.
Douglas Ray, 55, of Magnolia, Texas, and Victor Hugo Valdez Pinon, 54, a citizen of Mexico, pleaded guilty Oct. 28 and Oct. 26, 2016, respectively, to conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
Kamta Ramnarine, 69, and Daniel Perez, 69, both of Brownsville, Texas, pleaded guilty Nov. 2 to conspiring to violate the FCPA. Ramnarine and Perez are scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 30, 2017. Ray and Valdez Pinon are set to be sentenced Feb. 23, 2017.
Ernesto Hernandez Montemayor, 55, and Ramiro Ascencio Nevarez, 58, both whom are citizens of Mexico and are former officials of Mexican state government entities, each pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering. Hernandez Montemayor pleaded guilty Dec. 9, and is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 12, 2017. Nevarez pleaded guilty March 4, and was sentenced to 15 months in prison May 27.
According to the defendants’ plea agreements, between 2006 and 2016, Ray conspired with Valdez and others to bribe Mexican officials. The defendants and their co-conspirators, who owned or were associated with companies in the United States that provided aircraft maintenance, repair, overhaul and related services to customers from the United States and Mexico, paid the bribes in order to secure parts and servicing contracts with Mexican government-owned customers.
Ray agreed to pay bribes to at least seven different foreign officials, including Hernandez Montemayor, sometimes paying the bribes via wire transfer and checks to accounts in the United States controlled by the officials. As part of his guilty plea, Hernandez Montemayor admitted that while employed by a Mexican state government, he accepted bribes from Ray, Ramnarine, Perez and others in exchange for taking certain actions to assist companies they owned in winning business with Hernandez Montemayor’s state government employer. Hernandez Montemayor also admitted that he conspired with Ray, Ramnarine, Perez and others to launder the proceeds of the bribery scheme.
Ramnarine and Perez admitted that, in addition to bribing Hernandez Montemayor, they also conspired to pay bribes to several other foreign officials between 2007 and 2015 to ensure that their Brownsville-based company won aircraft parts and services contracts with Mexican government-owned customers.
As part of his guilty plea, Nevarez admitted that while employed by a Mexican public university, he accepted bribes from Ramnarine and Perez in exchange for taking certain actions to assist their company in winning business with the university. Nevarez also admitted he conspired with Ramnarine, Perez and others to launder the proceeds of the bribery scheme.
In total, Ray, Valdez Pinon, Ramnarine, Perez and their co-conspirators paid more than $2 million in bribes to Mexican officials, including Hernandez Montemayor and Nevarez, in order to secure aviation maintenance, repair and overhaul contracts.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jesse Salazar and Arthur Jones are prosecuting the case. The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs also provided significant assistance.
The Criminal Division’s Fraud Section is responsible for investigating and prosecuting all FCPA matters.