The State Department announced a $10 million reward on Oct. 22 for information leading to the arrest or conviction of a Colombian national that the United States accused of partaking in a bribery scheme.
Colombian national Alvaro Pulido Vargas and four others were charged on Oct. 21 by the Department of Justice. They were accused of bringing Venezuelan government officials to obtain inflated contracts to import and distribute food and medicine through a state-run program called CLAP. The individuals also allegedly laundered the proceeds of the contracts.
The State Department on Friday recounted the details of their alleged crimes.
“Beginning in 2015, Pulido and others began working to obtain or retain contracts to provide food to the Venezuelan people. Pulido and his co-conspirators allegedly marked-up the cost of producing the boxes of food in order to make a personal profit from their production,” the statement reads.
“From this cost mark-up, the conspirators were able to pay bribes and kickbacks to those Venezuelan government officials who assisted them in obtaining the contract to produce the boxes, and make millions of dollars in profit for themselves.”
The $10 million reward is offered under the Department of State’s Transnational Organized Crime Rewards Program (TOCRP).
According to the indictment (pdf), the five men received $1.6 billion from Venezuela and transferred $180 million through or to bank accounts in the United States. The three Colombians and two Venezuelans face one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and four counts of money laundering.
Pulido has allegedly worked with Alex Saab, a Colombian businessman and envoy of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. Last week, Saab was extradited to the United States, charged with money laundering.
The Maduro regime has condemned the extradition, calling it “kidnapping.” Meanwhile, Colombian President Ivan Duque praised the extradition, writing on Twitter, “The extradition of Alex Saab is a triumph in the fight against the drug trafficking, asset laundering, and corruption that the dictatorship of Nicolas Maduro has fostered.”