Ex-U.S. Broker Dealer Manager Charged in Foreign Bribery

Ernesto Lujan, an ex-managing partner of the broker-dealer Direct Access Partners LLC, was charged with participating in an international bribery scheme involving Venezuelan bank officials.

Lujan, 50, who was also sued by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, served as a branch manager of the Miami offices of DAP, the commission said today in its lawsuit.

He was arrested today at his home in Wellington, Florida, by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents and charged with violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s office said.

Lujan is the latest defendant to be charged in an international bribery scheme announced May 7 by Bharara’s office. TWO DAP employees were charged with paying bribes to secure the bond-trading business of Banco de Desarrollo Economico y Social de Venezuela, or BANDES, Venezuela’s state-owned economic development bank.

“From his perch as managing partner, Ernesto Lujan allegedly engaged in a bribery scheme designed to drum up foreign trading business for his firm,” Bharara said today in a statement. “Along with his alleged cohorts, three of whom were arrested last month, he pocketed millions from the alleged scheme.”

Maria Gonzalez, 54, vice president of finance at Banco de Desarrollo Economico y Social de Venezuela; Tomas Alberto Clarke Bethancourt, 43; and Jose Alejandro Hurtado, 38, were named in a criminal complaint unsealed last month in New York.

SEC Action

Prosecutors said Clarke was a senior vice president and Hurtado an employee in the Miami office of the brokerage, which was identified as DAP in a lawsuit by the SEC. The agency filed its related civil action today in federal court in New York.

Lujan was charged with offenses including Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violation and money-laundering. The most serious charges can be punished by as long as 20 years in prison.

Lujan appeared in federal court in West Palm Beach, Florida, and ordered held without bail, court records show. A lawyer for Lujan couldn’t immediately be reached for comment about the charges.

The case is U.S. v. Lujan, 13-mj-01501, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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