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A former loan officer at the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) pleaded guilty in federal court today for accepting more than $78,000 in bribes in return for recommending the approval of unqualified loan applications to the bank, among other misconduct.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting Inspector General Michael T. McCarthy of the Export-Import Bank of the United States and Assistant Director in Charge Andrew G. McCabe of the FBI’s Washington Field Office made the announcement.
Johnny Gutierrez, 50, of Stafford, Virginia, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler of the District of Columbia to one count of bribery of a public official. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for July 20, 2015.
“Gutierrez risked both taxpayer dollars and the integrity of the Ex-Im Bank for his personal financial gain,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell. “Those charged with serving the public will be held accountable when they seek personal enrichment at the public’s expense.”
“Gutierrez betrayed the trust and confidence of the hardworking Ex-Im Bank employees and the U.S. taxpayers,” said Acting Inspector General McCarthy. “The Office of Inspector General will continue to aggressively and diligently investigate all allegations of waste, fraud, and abuse related to Ex-Im Bank programs.”
“In his role as a loan officer, Gutierrez betrayed the trust that was placed in him by fellow citizens and took bribes in exchange for providing favorable action on loan applicants,” said Assistant Director in Charge McCabe. “The FBI, with our partners, will continue to investigate and expose fraudulent schemes that tarnish the good and ethical work of the U.S. government.”
According to his plea agreement, Gutierrez was a loan officer for the Ex-Im Bank based in Washington, D.C. The Ex-Im Bank is the federal agency responsible for promoting the export of U.S. goods to foreign countries through the guarantee of domestic loans to foreign buyers. As an Ex-Im Bank loan officer, Gutierrez was responsible for conducting credit underwriting reviews for companies and lenders submitting financing applications to the Ex-Im Bank.
As part of his guilty plea, Gutierrez admitted that on 19 separate occasions between June 2006 and December 2013, he accepted bribes totaling more than $78,000 in return for recommending the approval of unqualified loan applications and improperly expediting other applications.
Specifically, Gutierrez admitted that he intentionally ignored the fact that one company had previously defaulted in 10 previous transactions guaranteed by the bank, causing the Ex-Im Bank to lose almost $20 million. Despite these defaults, Gutierrez accepted bribes to continue to recommend the approval of the company’s loan applications. Additionally, Gutierrez admitted that he accepted bribes from a financing broker to expedite applications submitted by the broker, and that he privately assisted the broker to improve its applications before submission to the bank. In exchange, Gutierrez was to receive half of the broker’s profit on the transactions financed by the bank. Further, Gutierrez disclosed to the broker inside information about financing applications submitted to the Ex-Im Bank, so that the broker could solicit the applicants as clients.
The case was investigated by the Inspector General of the Export-Import Bank of the United States and the FBI, with significant assistance provided by the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation’s (IRS-CI) Washington Field Office. The case is being prosecuted by Senior Litigation Counsel Patrick M. Donley and Trial Attorney William H. Bowne of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.