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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.

41 mins ago - Health

Pfizer begins clinical trial for Omicron-specific COVID vaccine

A health worker in Palestine preparing a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech's coronavirus vaccine on Jan. 24. Photo: Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Pfizer and BioNTech announced Tuesday that they have started clinical trials for a reformulated vaccine to protect against the Omicron coronavirus variant.

Why it matters: The rise of the Omicron variant has forced vaccine makers to reassess the effectiveness of their vaccines.

Retail stock traders power stunning comeback after deep selloff

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

Stocks staged a Patrick Mahomes-esque comeback Monday, after plunging for the first few hours of trading.

Why it matters: The remarkable recovery suggests that retail traders who upended markets over the last year — most notably during the GameStop bonanza that occurred almost exactly a year ago — continue to be powerful influence in the markets.