DOJ dusts off little-used Travel Act to strengthen FCPA prosecutions

The law's exceptionally broad language allows prosecutors to pursue a wider range of criminal activity

On May 3, police in Miami scooped up three people who were decidedly not common criminals—Thomas Clarke and Jose Alejandro Hurtado, brokers for Wall Street firm Direct Access Partners, and Maria de los Angeles Gonzales, a vice president of Venezuela’s state-controlled bank Banco de Desarrollo Económico y Social de Venezuela (Bandes).

Clarke and Hurtado are accused of paying about $5 million in kickbacks to Gonzales to influence her to steer Bandes’ securities investment business to Direct Access Partners. A federal indictment filed May 7 charges the trio of executives with money laundering, conspiracy and violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and the Travel Act.

“The DOJ is looking to get both sides of the transaction,” says Peter Henning, a professor at Wayne State University Law School. “They are being aggressive in going after white-collar crime. They will use all of the tools to do so and they’re not just limiting themselves to the FCPA.”

Strategic Maneuver

Adele Nicholas

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