Saturday, July 16, 2022


This week's report of the indictment of two accused money launderers, one financial executive from Switzerland, RALPH STEINMANN and the other from Argentina, LUIS FERNANDO VUTEFF, serves to remind us that the massive Miami Federal case involving the Government's primary witness, Swiss banker MATTHIAS KRULL, keeps expanding with new defendants, as the global investigation continues to develop new leads.

Krull, who received an extraordinary 65% reduction in his ten-year sentence, will actually be released from FCI Miami next year, serving only a small fraction of the punishment originally meted out to him, has been linked to the Malta office of PORTMANN CAPITAL MANAGEMENT LIMITED,  but little else has been disclosed. Obviously, that portion of the case remains under active investigation, and therefore details about the targets are not publicly known. 

Matthias Krull

 Krull, by serving his short sentence in Miami, where his family resides, is therefore readily available to investigators pursuing additional targets. Most criminal defendants are designated by the Bureau of Prisons to serve their sentences far from home, indicating that his worth as a witness, and source of additional substantial assistance, is so valuable that the US Attorney in Miami was able to keep him close.

Whilst a number of money launderers have been arrested and convicted in the case thus far, we have no information regarding defendants who reside outside the United States, and who have sealed indictments pending against them, which have yet to result in their arrests or extradition from abroad.

Here is the relevant information from the press release of the US Attorney for the Southern District of Florida:


Two Financial Asset Managers Charged in Alleged $1.2 Billion Venezuelan Money Laundering Scheme 

Miami, Florida – Two financial asset managers have been charged with money laundering for their alleged role in a $1.2 billion international scheme to launder funds corruptly obtained from Venezuela’s state-owned and state-controlled energy company, PetrĂ³leos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA).

According to the indictment, Ralph Steinmann (Steinmann), 48, of Switzerland, and Luis Fernando Vuteff (Vuteff), 51, of Argentina, are each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.

The court documents, which include a criminal complaint charging Steinmann and Vuteff on June 12, 2022, allege that beginning in or around December 2014 and continuing until at least August 2018, Steinmann and Vuteff conspired with others to launder the proceeds of an illegal bribery scheme using the U.S. financial system as well as various bank accounts located abroad.  The conspirators laundered the illicit proceeds in connection with a corrupt foreign currency exchange scheme involving bribery of Venezuelan officials. 

Steinmann, Vuteff, and others discussed and agreed to create the sophisticated financial mechanisms and relationships required to launder more than $200 million related to the scheme as well as open accounts for or on behalf of at least two Venezuelan public officials to receive their bribe payments related to the scheme.

If convicted, the defendants face up to 20 years in prison for conspiracy to commit money laundering.  A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.  Vuteff has been arrested and is pending extradition from Switzerland.  Steinmann remains a fugitive from the United States.

( US Attorney's Office Press Release July 12, 2022)

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