A former Swiss banker was sentenced to 10 years in prison for his role in a plot to launder $1.2 billion stolen from Venezuela’s state-owned oil producer, but the judge said she may reduce his term if prosecutors are satisfied with his cooperation.
The banker, Matthias Krull, 45, was sentenced Monday in federal court in Miami, where he pleaded guilty on Aug. 22. He admitted joining a network of money launderers that used real estate and false-investment schemes to hide funds taken from Petroleos de Venezuela S.A., known as PDVSA.
U.S. District Judge Cecilia Altonaga also imposed a $50,000 fine and ordered Krull to forfeit $600,000, or the amount in fees that he earned for helping to launder funds. Prosecutors said he tried to launder $600 million and actually moved $60 million.
The judge said Krull had led an “honorable and righteous life” and had been active in his church before he helped to funnel money out of Venezuela.
“These actions seem to be at odds with the man I have before me,” Altonaga said. “It’s almost like you’re two people. You allowed yourself to go along and take actions which you knew in your heart of hearts were wrong.”
While she imposed the maximum sentence he faced, she said she may lower the term if prosecutors say he provided “substantial assistance” to their investigation.
Krull attorney Oscar Rodriguez said Krull has been cooperating with prosecutors. They’re looking into Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, his three stepsons, and Raul Gorrin, owner of the Globovision television network in Venezuela, a person familiar with the matter said.
At the hearing, Krull apologized to the people of Venezuela, the U.S. government, his wife and his three young children.
“I fully blame myself for being in this situation,” Krull said as he sobbed. “I apologize for making a bad decision. I pray and hope you won’t look at me as a bad person.”