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Photo: Samuel Corum/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Justice Department announced Thursday that it was charging five people with money laundering in connection with an alleged Venezuela bribery scheme.

The big picture: The five people charged allegedly bribed Venezuelan government officials to obtain contracts to import and distribute food and medicine through a state-run program known as CLAP, according to the DOJ.

  • The defendants and their co-conspirators "knowingly inflated the costs of the contracts to pay the bribes and unjustly enrich themselves," the DOJ said.
  • They allegedly received nearly $1.6 million from the Republic of Venezuela and transferred nearly $180 million through or to the United States, according to the DOJ.

Details: The five include three Colombian nationals — Alvaro Pulido Vargas, Carlos Rolando Lizcano Manrique and Emmanuel Enrique Rubio Gonzalez — as well as two Venezuelan nationals — Jose Gregorio Vielma-Mora and Ana Guillermo Luis.

  • Each person is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and four counts of money laundering.
  • If convicted, they each face a maximum of 100 years in prison, according to the DOJ's statement.

Go deeper

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
Nov 3, 2021 - Economy & Business

Book publishers caught in Biden administration's antitrust crosshairs

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Department of Justice filed suit on Tuesday to prevent Penguin Random House — a subsidiary of German publishing giant Bertelsmann — from acquiring rival publisher Simon & Schuster.

Why it matters: This isn't a standard anti-monopoly case. Quite the opposite, in fact: It's an anti-monopsony case, which shows that the DOJ — and the Biden administration more broadly — is willing to push the envelope of antitrust enforcement.

Movie theaters go out of style

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Vaccination rates are going up, people are going out to restaurants again — although the new COVID variant may get in the way — but they still aren't rushing back to the movies.

By the numbers: Some 49% of pre-pandemic moviegoers are no longer hitting theaters, according to a study from the film research company The Quorum, as reported by the New York Times.

3 hours ago - Health

Vaccine mandates lose steam in the U.S. while Europe doubles down

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

European countries are doubling down on pressure campaigns to get people vaccinated just as Republicans continue to wage war — often successfully — against vaccine mandates in the U.S.

Why it matters: The starkly different approaches create a sharp contrast between the regions' approaches to vaccination, even as the Omicron variant rapidly spreads around the world.