Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Feds in San Antonio work to seize Learjet in Mexico corruption probe

The federal government is trying to seize a private jet owned by a Mexican businessman with San Antonio ties who is caught up in a cross-border bribery and money laundering probe.

In a lawsuit filed last month in San Antonio federal court, prosecutors asked a judge to forfeit a 2000 Learjet registered in Mexico, alleging it was involved in a money laundering scheme. Information about the airplane’s owner and the alleged money laundering was kept sealed. In a court filing Wednesday, prosecutors said they notified Luis Rayet, a businessman from the Mexican state of Coahuila, that they’re trying to take the plane.

The plane is owned by Rayet’s company, Rajet Aero Servicios S.A. de C.V., which provides air charter services between Mexico and the U.S. It was seized in San Antonio.

Prosecutors included boilerplate language in the initial suit claiming the plane is “property involved in a transaction or an attempted transaction” using money gained through “foreign offenses involving ‘extortion,’ foreign offenses involving ‘the misappropriation, theft, or embezzlement of public funds by or for the benefit of a public official,’ foreign offenses involving bribery of a public official; (and) wire fraud.”

Rayet’s name has shown up before in court proceedings related to an investigation into the laundering in Texas of tens of millions of dollars stolen from the Coahuila government, but he has not been charged with a crime. This is the first time U.S. prosecutors have tried to seize his property.

“Mr. Rayet denies that his company’s 2000 Learjet was derived from or involved in a money laundering scheme or any other illegal activity,” Houston lawyer Andy Parker said Wednesday. “He looks forward to refuting the government’s claims in open court.”

A massive public works program in Coahuila left the state billions of dollars in debt, and since 2013 federal prosecutors in San Antonio and Corpus Christ have leveled allegations that former officials stole millions of dollars from the state and laundered a portion of it in Texas. They’ve charged the state’s former interim governor, its former treasurer and several businessmen. Former Gov. Humberto Moreira, once the leader of Mexico’s ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, is under investigation but has not been charged and has denied wrongdoing.

Rayet’s name most recently came up during the plea hearing of Luis Carlos Castillo Cervantes, a Rio Grande Valley businessman who admitted to laundering money in Texas that he received from state contracts secured by bribing government officials.

Castillo said he got state paving contracts in exchange for paying bribes to former interim Gov. Jorge Juan Torres Lopez, now a fugitive from criminal charges in Corpus Christi, and former state treasurer Hector Javier Villarreal, who has admitted to financial crimes in San Antonio and is free on bond pending his sentencing.

Castillo also admitted to paying nearly $600,000 in 2009 to a title company that was used to purchase a house in the Greystone Country Estates subdivision for Moreira’s mother-in-law. During his plea hearing, Castillo said he owed the money to one of Rayet’s companies and was told to wire money to the title company to settle that debt.

Castillo also admitted to paying nearly $600,000 in 2009 to a title company that was used to purchase a house in the Greystone Country Estates subdivision for Moreira’s mother-in-law. During his plea hearing, Castillo said he owed the money to one of Rayet’s companies and was told to wire money to the title company to settle that debt.

Rayet in the past invested in Texas properties, including a home near Houston that had been owned by Torres, the former interim governor, and three pieces of property in San Antonio that one of his companies purchased in 2011 and sold in 2014.

http://www.expressnews.com

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Even if they recover the aircraft, its a boat anchor without all the maintenance and operating records. Could be donated to a A&P school.