News Americas, WASHINGTON, D.C., Fri. June 29, 2018: A 47-year-old Honduran man has pleaded guilty to laundering $1.3 Million in bribes and funds misappropriated from the Honduran Social Security Agency.
Carlos Zelaya, 47, a citizen of Honduras who was residing in the New Orleans area, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Martin L.C. Feldman of the Eastern District of Louisiana to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.
According to admissions made as part of the plea agreement, Zelaya conspired with his brother, the former Executive Director of the Honduran Institute of Social Security, and others to launder over $1.3 million in bribe payments.
These bribes were paid by two Honduran businessmen for the benefit of the Executive Director. The funds were then laundered into the New Orleans area through international wire transfers and used to purchase real estate, including for a commercial property.
Zelaya collected and spent the rental income derived from the properties, even after a federal judge ordered him to preserve the funds pending resolution of a federal civil forfeiture suit. During that case, he also made false statements to the U.S. government in written discovery responses and to a federal judge in the Eastern District of Louisiana while testifying under oath.
As part of the conspiracy, Zelaya also used his brother’s high-ranking official position to profit from lucrative Honduran government contracts and then laundered the misappropriated funds into the New Orleans area. Under the terms of the plea agreement, Zelaya agreed to forfeit those properties.
He is set to be sentenced on Oct. 3 at 1:30 p.m. CT.