US prosecutors throw the book at money launderer

MIAMI (AP) — Federal prosecutors in Miami are seeking a stiff prison sentence against a United States (US)-based money manager they claim is hindering their efforts to seize a USD2.7 million home and other assets he agreed to forfeit when he pleaded guilty to laundering bribe payments for a corrupt Venezuelan official.

Colombian-born Gustavo Hernandez Frieri pleaded guilty in 2019 to a single count of conspiring to launder money for his role in a USD1.2 billion embezzlement scheme involving Venezuela’s state-run oil giant PDVSA.

As part of his plea deal, Hernandez Frieri agreed to assist prosecutors in the forfeiture of assets and proceeds from the scheme.

However, in their sentencing memo filed on Friday night, prosecutors portray Hernandez Frieri as an unrepentant, recalcitrant defendant who “has not learned from his past criminal conduct”.

Despite the lack of a previous criminal record, they are seeking a “more substantial” prison sentence than the one recommended by probation officers and near the maximum 10 years allowed.