No bail for Bolivian anti-corruption official accused of extortion

A peculiar international fracas between the United States, Bolivia, and two men who have now been forcibly expatriated from Bolivia is taking place in the federal courts here in Florida. In 2011, a Bolivian businessman who owns the majority of Aerosur Airlines, filed a petition for asylum in the U.S.

He claims the Bolivian government filed trumped-up criminal charges against him in an effort to silence his criticism of official corruption in that country. In August of this year, Bolivian's anti-corruption chief came to Florida to discuss resolving the charges.

Suspicious, the businessman contacted the FBI on the advice of his attorney. The FBI had him wear a wire to two meetings with the anti-corruption chief, and the official allegedly offered to drop the charges -- and charge someone else -- in exchange for $30,000. The FBI swept in and charged the official with extortion. Bolivian officials have now deemed the official a "deserter," and he now faces forced expatriation himself. He was denied bail on Monday.

Interestingly, the businessman has also brought a federal lawsuit against Bolivia, its vice president and other officials he believes are responsible for the trumped-up charges. His primary motivation for the lawsuit, however, is that Bolivia is seeking to expropriate his assets, including his 51-percent stake in the airline, which is estimated to be worth tens of millions of dollars.

A conspiracy and arbitrary expropriation lawsuit being filed in a U.S. court may have motivated Bolivian officials to take action, but the Bolivian government insists that the now-former anti-corruption official acted on his own. Indeed, the man admits he was not on official business when he came to Florida.

A U.S. magistrate judge denied the official's bond request, saying he was a flight risk. The judge pointed to the apparent strength of the FBI's extortion case and the fact that he "either was, or is, a high-ranking official in Bolivia." Prosecutors were unable to persuade Bolivian officials to clarify what position the man held. In any case, the judge continued, "there is a risk that he may reach out to any number of his colleagues there for help in returning to Bolivia."

The former anti-corruption official admits to meeting with the businessman, but denies any attempt to extort him. As for the businessman, both his asylum request and his lawsuit remain pending.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information
  • Badge 1
  • Badge 2
  • Badge 3
  • Badge 4
  • Badge 5
  • Badge 6
  • Badge 7
  • Badge 8

Contact O'Brien Hatfield, PA for a free case evaluation today

In Tampa, call (813) 345-4909. In Orlando, call (888) 496-5916 . For fast answers, email us using the form below.

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information
disclaimer.

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.

close

Privacy Policy

This site uses Google's Invisible reCAPTCHA, which is subject to Google's Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

Footer Brand

Tampa Bay Office
511 West Bay Street Suite 330
Tampa, FL 33606

Toll Free: 888-496-5916
Phone: 813-345-4909
Tampa Law Office Map

Central Florida Office
121 South Orange Avenue Suite 1500
Orlando, FL 32801

Toll Free: 888-496-5916
Phone: 407-686-1696
Orlando Law Office Map

South Florida Office
Northbridge Tower
515 North Flagler Drive
Suite P-300
West Palm Beach, FL 33401

Toll Free: 888-496-5916
Phone: 407-686-1696
South Florida Office Map

South Florida Office
Brickell Bay Office Tower
1001 Brickell Bay Drive
Suite 2700 M-1
Miami, FL 33131

Toll Free: 888-496-5916
Phone: 305-859-0046
Miami Law Office Map