* U.S. charges a managing partner of Direct Access
* Three other individuals were charged in May
* Scheme allegedly created $60 mln in fees for Direct Access
By Nate Raymond
NEW YORK, June 12 U.S. prosecutors on Wednesday
arrested a managing partner at broker-dealer Direct Access
Partners and charged him with participating in a scheme to pay
bribes to a Venezuelan bank official, bringing to four the
number of individuals criminally charged in the case.
Ernesto Lujan, 50, was charged in connection with a
conspiracy to pay bribes to Maria De Los Angeles Gonzalez De
Hernandez, a senior official in Venezuela's state economic
The U.S. Attorneys office for Manhattan said the scheme
generated more than $60 million in fees for Direct Access
Partners through business directed by Gonzalez, who prosecutors
said received more than $5 million in kickback payments.
U.S. prosecutors in May had announced charges against
Gonzalez and two employees of New York-based Direct Access
Partners, Tomas Alberto Clarke Bethancourt and Jose Alejandro
"The huge bribes Mr. Lujan and others allegedly paid
funneled millions to his firm and into his own pockets," the
U.S. acting assistant attorney general, Mythili Raman, said in a
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which brought a
related civil lawsuit in May, said on Wednesday it also expanded
its complaint to add charges against Lujan.
Alfred Pavlis, a lawyer for Lujan, did not immediately
respond to requests for comment.
Lujan was the former head of the Miami office of Direct
Access, the SEC said.
According to the criminal complaint, Lujan participated in
the bribery scheme with Clarke and Hurtado, from December 2008
through October 2010.
The complaint said Lujan, Clarke and Hurtado directed a
portion of the money that Direct Access earned on fees for trade
executions in Venezuelan sovereign bonds for the state-owned
bank, Caracas-based Banco de Desarrollo Económico y Social de
Venezuela, known as Bandes.
Some kickbacks were hidden through corporate entities and
offshore accounts that Gonzalez held in Switzerland, the
The complaint said one of Lujan's previously charged
co-conspirators, who was not identified, is now providing
information in hopes of entering a cooperation agreement with
Lujan was arrested Wednesday morning in Wellington, Florida,
and presented in a federal court in West Palm Beach. The charges
against him include conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt
Practices Act and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
The cases in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of
New York, are U.S. v. Lujan, No. 13-1501; and SEC v.
Bethancourt, No. 13-3074.