The Export-Import Bank is in the cross-hairs on Capitol Hill, and the latest news that a loan officer was taking bribes isn’t going to help defenders.
Johnny Gutierrez, 50, of Stafford, Virginia, a former loan officer at the Export-Import Bank of the United States pleaded guilty in federal court for accepting more than $78,000 in bribes in return for recommending the approval of unqualified loan applications to the bank, among other misconduct.
The defendant 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.
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.