One Former Development Worker Sentenced for Embezzlement and Fraud, Another Acquitted

A former contractor for a recently completed U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) project in Afghanistan has been sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison and a $9,500 fine.

Corruption Tribunal on April 8, 2013. The Tribunal found Mr. Anwarzai guilty of violating Afghan Penal Code Article 268, regarding embezzlement of funds and Article 310 regarding the forgery of official documents.

Abdul Khabir Kakar, another former contractor accused in the case, was acquitted and
subsequently released. He was not found to have been involved in the fraud.
The sentencing came as part of what U.S. Government officials described as an ongoing campaign against fraud and waste in reconstruction and development activities in Afghanistan. The investigation was conducted jointly by the Afghanistan Attorney General’s Office Anti-Corruption Unit and USAID’s Office of Inspector General.
Commenting on the Anti-Corruption Tribunal’s ruling, USAID’s Deputy Inspector General Michael G. Carroll expressed his appreciation for the strong partnership between USAID’s OIG investigators and Afghan law enforcement officials that led to the recent ruling. “Partnerships with law enforcement agencies overseas are critical to our efforts to combat waste, fraud, and abuse in development activities worldwide. This sentencing demonstrates how effective these partnerships can be,” he said.
Noor Anwarzai and Abdul Khabir Kakar are former employees of the recently concluded
Afghanistan Farm Service Alliance project implemented by Citizen’s Network for Foreign Affairs (CNFA). The two were arrested by the Afghan National Police in November 2012 on charges of conspiring to embezzle approximately $10,000 of USAID funds. They were accused of falsifying official documentation from the Afghan Ministry of Finance, indicating that CNFA had paid the appropriate local property taxes for the office building when they had not.

Ralph Lauren Corporation Resolves Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Investigation and Agrees to Pay $882,000 Monetary Penalty

Ralph Lauren Corporation (RLC), a New York based apparel company, has agreed to pay an $882,000 penalty to resolve allegations that it violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) by bribing government officials in Argentina to obtain improper customs clearance of merchandise, announced Mythili Raman, the Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division, and Loretta E. Lynch, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.

According to the agreement, the manager of RLC’s subsidiary in Argentina bribed customs officials in Argentina over the span of five years to improperly obtain paperwork necessary for goods to clear customs; permit clearance of items without the necessary paperwork and/or the clearance of prohibited items; and on occasion, to avoid inspection entirely.  RLC’s employee disguised the payments by funneling them through a customs clearance agency, which created fake invoices to justify the improper payments.  During these five years, RLC did not have an anti-corruption program and did not provide any anti-corruption training or oversight with respect to its subsidiary in Argentina.

In addition to the monetary penalty, RLC agreed to cooperate with the Department of Justice, to report periodically to the department concerning RLC’s compliance efforts, and to continue to implement an enhanced compliance program and internal controls designed to prevent and detect FCPA violations.  If RLC abides by the terms of the agreement, the Department will not prosecute RLC in connection with the conduct.

The agreement acknowledges RLC’s extensive, thorough, and timely cooperation, including self-disclosure of the misconduct, voluntarily making employees available for interviews, making voluntary document disclosures, conducting a worldwide risk assessment, and making multiple presentations to the Department on the status and findings of the internal investigation and the risk assessment.  In addition, RLC has engaged in early and extensive remediation, including conducting extensive FCPA training for employees worldwide, enhancing the company’s existing FCPA policy, implementing an enhanced gift policy and other enhanced compliance, control and anti-corruption policies and procedures, enhancing its due diligence protocol for third-party agents, terminating culpable employees and a third-party agent, instituting a whistleblower hotline, and hiring a designated corporate compliance attorney.

In a related matter, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission today announced a non-prosecution agreement with RLC , in which RLC agreed to pay $$734,846 in disgorgement and prejudgment interest.

The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Daniel S. Kahn of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Sarah Coyne, Chief of the Business and Securities Fraud Section of the Eastern District of New York.  The case was investigated by the FBI’s New York Field Office.  The department acknowledges and expresses its appreciation for the assistance provided by the SEC’s Division of Enforcement.

Additional information about the Justice Department’s FCPA enforcement efforts can be found at www.justice.gov/criminal/fraud/fcpa.

Justice Department Reaches Settlement with Anheuser-Busch InBev and Grupo Modelo in Beer Case

Divestitures of Piedras Negras Brewery, Perpetual Licenses to Modelo Beer Brands, and Other Assets Will Maintain Competition in the Beer Industry Nationwide

WASHINGTON – The Department of Justice announced today that it has reached a settlement with Anheuser-Busch InBev SA/NV (ABI) and Grupo Modelo S.A.B. de C.V. that requires the companies to divest Modelo’s entire U.S. business – including licenses of Modelo brand beers, its most advanced brewery, Piedras Negras, its interest in Crown Imports LLC and other assets – to Constellation Brands Inc., in order to go forward with their merger.    The department said the proposed settlement will maintain competition in the beer industry nationwide, benefitting consumers.

Today’s proposed settlement was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.    If approved by the court, the settlement will resolve the department’s competitive concerns.

On Jan. 31, 2013, the department filed an antitrust lawsuit against ABI and Modelo alleging that ABI’s $20.1 billion acquisition of the remaining interest in Modelo that ABI did not already own, as originally proposed, would substantially lessen competition in the market for beer in the United States as a whole and in at least 26 metropolitan areas across the United States.    The department alleged that the transaction would result in consumers paying more for beer and would limit innovation in the beer market.

 

“Before the merger, there were two competitors – Modelo and ABI – and ABI owned a substantial stake in Modelo.    The companies’ proposed merger would have reduced those two competitors to one – ABI.  The proposed settlement announced today will create an independent, fully integrated and economically viable competitor to ABI.    This is a win for the $80 billion U.S. beer market and consumers,” said Bill Baer, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division.    “If this settlement makes just a one percent difference in prices, U.S. consumers will save almost $1 billion a year.”

The settlement requires ABI and Modelo to divest Modelo’s entire U.S. business to Constellation or to an alternative purchaser if for some reason the transaction with Constellation cannot be completed.    Specifically, the settlement requires ABI and Modelo to divest:    the Piedras Negras brewery, Modelo’s newest, most technologically advanced brewery; perpetual and exclusive licenses of the Modelo brand beers for distribution and sale in the United States; Modelo’s current interest in Crown – the joint venture established by Modelo and Constellation to import, market and sell certain Modelo beers into the United States; and other assets, rights and interests necessary to ensure that Constellation is able to compete in the U.S. beer market using the Modelo brand beers, independent of a relationship to ABI and Modelo.

 

The licensed brands include all seven brands that Modelo currently offers (through its distributor, Crown) in the United States – Corona Extra, Corona Light, Modelo Especial, Negra Modelo, Modelo Light, Pacifico and Victoria – as well as three brands not yet offered in the United States, but currently sold by Modelo in Mexico – Pacifico Light, Barrilito and León.   The licenses include rights that will give Constellation the ability to adapt to changing market conditions in the United States.

 

Constellation has committed to expand the capacity of Piedras Negras in order to meet current and future demand for the Modelo brands in the United States, and that commitment is a condition of the proposed settlement.    The settlement also sets milestones for the expansion of the Piedras Negras brewery.    In order to enable Constellation to compete in the United States during the time it takes to expand the Piedras Negras brewery’s capacity to brew and bottle beer, the settlement requires ABI to enter into interim supply and transition services agreements with Constellation.   These agreements are time-limited to ensure that Constellation will become a fully independent competitor to ABI as soon as practicable.

 

ABI and Modelo originally proposed selling Modelo’s stake in Crown to Constellation and entering into a 10-year supply agreement to provide Modelo beer to Constellation to import into the United States.    The department rejected that purported fix because it would have eliminated the Modelo brands as an independent competitive force in the United States beer market.    Unlike the companies’ original proposal, which left Constellation with no brewing assets and beholden to ABI for the supply of beer, the proposed settlement ensures that Constellation, or an alternative purchaser, will have independent brewing assets and the ownership of the Modelo beer brands for sale in the United States in perpetuity.    As a result, Constellation will fully replace Modelo as a competitor in the United States.

 

ABI is a corporation organized and existing under the laws of Belgium, with headquarters in Leuven, Belgium.    ABI brews and markets more beer sold in the United States than any other firm, with a 39 percent market share nationally.    ABI owns and operates 125 breweries worldwide, including 12 in the United States.    It owns more than 200 different beer brands, including Bud Light – the best-selling brand in the United States – and other popular brands such as Budweiser, Busch, Michelob, Natural Light, Stella Artois, Goose Island and Beck’s.

 

Modelo is a corporation organized and existing under the laws of Mexico, with headquarters in Mexico City.    Modelo is the third-largest brewer of beer sold in the United States, with a seven percent market share nationally.    Modelo owns Corona Extra–the top-selling beer imported into the United States.    Its other popular brands sold in the United States include Corona Light, Modelo Especial, Negra Modelo, Victoria and Pacifico.    Crown imports, markets and sells Modelo’s brands into the United States.    ABI currently holds a 35.3 percent direct interest in Modelo and a 23.3 percent direct interest in Modelo’s operating subsidiary Diblo.

 

Constellation, headquartered in Victor, N.Y, is a beer, wine and spirits company with a portfolio of more than 100 products, including Robert Mondavi, Clos du Bois, Ruffino and SVEDKA Vodka.    It produces wine and distilled spirits, with more than 40 facilities worldwide.

The proposed settlement, along with the department’s competitive impact statement, will be published in the Federal Register, consistent with the requirements of the Antitrust Procedures and Penalties Act.   Any person may submit written comments concerning the proposed settlement within 60 days of its publication to James Tierney, Chief, Networks and Technology Enforcement Section, Antitrust Division, U.S. Department of Justice, 450 Fifth Street, N.W., Suite 7100, Washington, D.C. 20530.   The comments will be published in the Federal Register.   At the conclusion of the 60-day comment period, the court may enter the final judgment upon a finding that it serves the public interest.

Foreign Bribery Charges Unsealed Against Current and Former Executives of French Power Company

Charges have been unsealed against one current and one former executive of the U.S. subsidiary of a French power and transportation company for their alleged participation in a scheme to pay bribes to foreign government officials, Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut David Fein and Assistant Director in Charge Valerie Parlave of the FBI’s Washington Field Office announced today.

Frederic Pierucci, 45, a current company executive who previously held the position of vice president of global sales for the Connecticut-based U.S. subsidiary, was charged in an indictment unsealed yesterday in the District of Connecticut with conspiring to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and to launder money, as well as substantive charges of violating the FCPA and money laundering.  Pierucci, a French national, was arrested Sunday night at John F. Kennedy International Airport.

David Rothschild, 67, of Massachusetts, a former vice president of sales for the Connecticut-based U.S. subsidiary, pleaded guilty on Nov. 2, 2012, to a criminal information charging one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA.  The charges against Rothschild and his guilty plea were unsealed today.

“Frederic Pierucci and David Rothschild allegedly used outside consultants to bribe foreign officials in Indonesia in exchange for lucrative power contracts,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Raman.  “Stamping out foreign bribery is a Justice Department priority, and we are determined to continue our vigorous enforcement of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.”

“As alleged, this investigation has revealed a corrupt scheme to secure valuable contracts by bribing government officials in Indonesia,” said U.S. Attorney Fein.  “Corrupt payments to government officials erode public confidence in the global marketplace, and these charges demonstrate our commitment to hold people responsible for violating the FCPA.”

“Anyone who still believes that foreign bribery is an acceptable business practice should take a hard look at the charges against these executives.  There is no place for bribery in any business model or corporate culture,” said Assistant Director in Charge Parlave.  “Along with the Department of Justice, international law enforcement partners, and other U.S. federal agencies, the FBI is committed to investigating corrupt backroom deals that threaten our global commerce.”

According to the charges, Pierucci and Rothschild, together with others, paid bribes to officials in Indonesia, including a member of Indonesian Parliament and high-ranking members of Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN), the state-owned and state-controlled electricity company in Indonesia, in exchange for those officials’ assistance in securing a contract for the company to provide power-related services for the citizens of Indonesia, known as the Tarahan project.  The charges allege that, in order to conceal the bribes, the defendants retained two consultants purportedly to provide legitimate consulting services on behalf of the power company and its subsidiaries in connection with the Tarahan project.  In reality, however, the primary purpose for hiring the consultants was allegedly to use the consultants to pay bribes to Indonesian officials.

The first consultant retained by the defendants allegedly received hundreds of thousands of dollars into his Maryland bank account to be used to bribe the member of Parliament, according to the charges.  The consultant then allegedly transferred the bribe money to a bank account in Indonesia for the benefit of the official.  According to court documents, emails between Pierucci, Rothschild and their co-conspirators discuss in detail the use of the first consultant to funnel bribes to the member of Parliament and the influence that the member of Parliament could exert over the Tarahan project.  However, when Pierucci and others determined that the first consultant was not effectively bribing key officials at PLN, they allegedly retained the second consultant to accomplish that purpose.  The charges allege that the power company deviated from its usual practice of paying consultants on a pro-rata basis in order to make a much larger up-front payment to the second consultant so that the consultant could “get the right influence.”  An employee at the power company’s subsidiary in Indonesia sent an e-mail to Pierucci and others asking them to finalize the consultancy agreement with the front-loaded payments but stated that in the meantime the employee would give his word to a high-level official at PLN, according to the charges.

The conspiracy to commit violations of the FCPA count carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a fine of the greater of $250,000 or twice the value gained or lost.  The substantive FCPA counts each carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a fine of the greater of $100,000 or twice the value gained or lost.  The conspiracy to commit money laundering count carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of the greater of $500,000 or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction.  The substantive money laundering counts each carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of the greater of $500,000 or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction.

An indictment is merely an accusation, and defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Daniel S. Kahn of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney David E. Novick of the District of Connecticut.  The case is being investigated by FBI agents who are part of the Washington Field Office’s dedicated FCPA squad, with assistance from the Meriden, Conn., Resident Agency of the FBI.  Significant assistance was provided by the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs, and the department has also worked closely with its law enforcement counterparts in Indonesia at the Komisi Pemberantasan Korupsi (Corruption Eradication Commission) and deeply appreciates KPK’s assistance in this matter.

Additional information about the Justice Department’s FCPA enforcement efforts can be found at www.justice.gov/criminal/fraud/fcpa.

Parker Drilling Company Resolves FCPA Investigation and Agrees to Pay $11.76 Million Penalty

Parker Drilling Company Resolves FCPA Investigation and Agrees to Pay $11.76 Million Penalty
 Parker Drilling Company, a publicly listed drilling-services company, headquartered in Houston, has agreed to pay an $11.76 million penalty to resolve charges related to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) for authorizing payment to an intermediary, knowing that the payment would be used to corruptly influence the decisions of a Nigerian government panel reviewing Parker Drilling’s adherence to Nigerian customs and tax laws.  Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride for the Eastern District of Virginia announced the charges.

The investigation of Parker Drilling stemmed from the Justice Department’s Panalpina-related investigations, which previously yielded criminal resolutions with Panalpina and five oil and gas service companies and subsidiaries and resulted in more than $156 million in criminal penalties.

Today, the department filed a deferred prosecution agreement and a criminal information against Parker Drilling in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.  The one-count information charges Parker Drilling with violating the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions.

According to court documents, in  2001 and 2002, Panalpina World Transport (Nigeria) Limited, working on Parker Drilling’s behalf, avoided certain costs associated with complying with Nigeria’s customs laws by fraudulently claiming that Parker Drilling’s rigs had been exported and then re-imported into Nigeria.  In late 2002, Nigeria formed a government commission, commonly called the Temporary Import (TI) Panel, to examine whether Nigeria’s Customs Service had collected certain duties and tariffs that Nigeria was due. In December 2002, the TI Panel commenced proceedings against Parker Drilling.  The TI Panel later determined that Parker Drilling had violated Nigeria’s customs laws and assessed a $3.8 million fine against Parker Drilling.

According to court documents, rather than pay the assessed fine, Parker Drilling contracted indirectly with an intermediary agent to resolve its customs issues.  From January to May 2004, Parker Drilling transferred $1.25 million to the agent, who reported spending a portion of the money on various things including entertaining government officials.  Emails in which the agent requested additional money from Parker Drilling referenced the agent’s interactions with Nigeria’s Ministry of Finance, State Security Service, and a delegation from the president’s office.  Two senior executives within Parker Drilling at the time reviewed and approved the agent’s invoices, knowing that the invoices arbitrarily attributed portions of the money that Parker Drilling transferred to the agent to various fees and expenses.  The agent succeeded in reducing Parker Drilling’s TI Panel fines from $3.8 million to just $750,000.

Under the terms of the agreement, the Justice Department agreed to defer prosecution of Parker Drilling for three years.  Parker Drilling agreed, among other things, to implement an enhanced compliance program and internal controls capable of preventing and detecting FCPA violations, to report periodically to the department concerning Parker Drilling’s compliance efforts, and to cooperate with the department in ongoing investigations.  If Parker Drilling abides by the terms of the deferred prosecution agreement, the department will dismiss the criminal information when the term of the agreement expires.

In entering into the deferred prosecution agreement with Parker Drilling, the Justice Department took into account a number of considerations.  Parker Drilling conducted an extensive, multi-year investigation into the charged conduct; engaged in widespread remediation, including ending its business relationships with officers, employees, or agents primarily responsible for the corrupt payments, enhancing scrutiny of high-risk third-party agents and transactions, increasing training and testing requirements, and instituting heightened review of proposals and other transactional documents for all the company’s contracts; otherwise significantly enhanced its compliance program and internal controls; and agreed to continue to cooperate with the department in any ongoing investigation of the conduct.

Parker Drilling also reached a settlement of a related civil complaint filed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charging Parker Drilling with violating the FCPA’s anti-bribery, books and records, and internal controls provisions.  As part of that settlement, Parker Drilling agreed to pay $3.05 million in disgorgement and $1.04 million in prejudgment interest relating to those violations.

The criminal case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Stephen J. Spiegelhalter of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jasmine Yoon of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, and is being investigated by the FBI. The department’s Office of International Affairs assisted in the investigation.  The department also acknowledges and is grateful for the assistance of the Crown Prosecution Service, the United Kingdom’s Metropolitan Police Service, and SEC.

Additional information about the Justice Department’s FCPA enforcement efforts can be found at www.justice.gov/criminal/fraud/fcpa.

Northern California Real Estate Investor Agrees to Plead Guilty to Bid Rigging at Public Foreclosure Auctions Investigation Has Yielded 30 Plea Agreements to Date

Northern California Real Estate Investor Agrees to Plead Guilty to Bid Rigging at Public Foreclosure Auctions
Investigation Has Yielded 30 Plea Agreements to Date
A Northern California real estate investor has agreed to plead guilty for his role in conspiracies to rig bids and commit mail fraud at public real estate foreclosure auctions in Northern California, the Department of Justice announced.

Felony charges were filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco against Mohammed Rezaian, of Novato, Calif. Rezaian is the 30th individual to plead guilty or agree to plead guilty as a result of the department’s ongoing antitrust investigations into bid rigging and fraud at public real estate foreclosure auctions in Northern California.

According to court documents, Rezaian conspired with others not to bid against one another, but instead to designate a winning bidder to obtain selected properties at public real estate foreclosure auctions in San Francisco and San Mateo counties, Calif . Rezaian was also charged with conspiring to use the mail to carry out schemes to fraudulently acquire title to selected properties sold at public auctions, to make and receive payoffs, and to divert to co-conspirators money that would have otherwise gone to mortgage holders and others.   According to court documents, a forfeiture allegation was also included in the charges against Rezaian.

The department said Rezaian conspired with others to rig bids and commit mail fraud at public real estate foreclosure auctions in San Francisco and San Mateo counties beginning as early as July 2008 and continuing until about January 2011.

“As a result of this investigation, the Antitrust Division has thus far filed charges against 30 real estate investors in Northern California for their illegal activity at foreclosure auctions,” said Bill Baer, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. “The division will vigorously pursue the perpetrators of these fraudulent and anticompetitive schemes.”

The department said that the primary purpose of the conspiracies was to suppress and restrain competition and to conceal payoffs in order to obtain selected real estate offered at San Francisco and San Mateo County public foreclosure auctions at non-competitive prices. When real estate properties are sold at these auctions, the proceeds are used to pay off the mortgage and other debt attached to the property, with remaining proceeds, if any, paid to the homeowner.

 

“Not only is bid rigging at public foreclosure auctions illegal, it also severely undermines the integrity of a fair and competitive marketplace,” said David J. Johnson, FBI Special Agent in Charge of the San Francisco Field Office. “The FBI will continue to investigate and pursue those who commit fraudulent anticompetitive practices at foreclosure auctions and work with those who have fallen victim to such selfish crimes.”

 

A violation of the Sherman Act carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1 million fine for individuals. The maximum fine for the Sherman Act charges may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by the victims if either amount is greater than $1 million. A count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. The government can also seek to forfeit the proceeds earned from participating in the conspiracy to commit mail fraud.
The charges today are the latest filed by the department in its ongoing investigation into bid rigging and fraud at public real estate foreclosure auctions in San Francisco, San Mateo, Contra Costa and Alameda counties, Calif. These investigations are being conducted by the Antitrust Division’s San Francisco office and the FBI’s San Francisco office. Anyone with information concerning bid rigging or fraud related to public real estate foreclosure auctions should contact the Antitrust Division’s San Francisco office at 415-436-6660 , visit www.justice.gov/atr/contact/newcase.htm, or call the FBI tip line at 415-553-74 00.

Today’s charges were brought in connection with the President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. The task force was established to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed nearly 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,900 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, please visit www.StopFraud.gov .

Obstruction Charges Filed in Ongoing Fcpa Investigation into Alleged Guinean Mining Rights Bribe Scheme

Frederic Cilins, 50, a French citizen, has been arrested and accused of attempting to obstruct an ongoing investigation into whether a mining company paid bribes to win lucrative mining rights in the Republic of Guinea.

Mythili Raman, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York; and George Venizelos, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s New York Field Office, made the announcement.

“Mr. Cilins is charged with scheming to destroy documents and induce a witness to give false testimony to a grand jury investigating potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Raman.  “The Justice Department is committed to rooting out foreign bribery, and we will not tolerate criminal attempts to thwart our efforts.”

“A grand jury can never learn the truth, and justice cannot prevail, where documents are intentionally destroyed and testimony is tainted by lies,” said U.S. Attorney Bharara.  “As alleged, Frederic Cilins attempted to obstruct a significant investigation by corrupting evidence and testimony in precisely those ways.  With today’s arrest, he now begins his own path to justice for his alleged conduct.”

“As alleged, Cilins attempted to buy evidence he sought to destroy,” said FBI Assistant Director in Charge Venizelos.  “The destruction of evidence was in furtherance of Cilins’s alleged effort to obstruct an investigation into a bribery scheme. In effect, he was allegedly willing to commit bribery in an effort to cover up a bribery.”

Cilins was arrested in Jacksonville, Fla., on April 14, 2013, and a criminal complaint was filed in the Southern District of New York today charging Cilins with tampering with a witness, victim or informant; obstructing a criminal investigation; and destroying, altering or falsifying records in a federal investigation.  The obstruction charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, and the tampering and record-destruction charges each carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. Cilins made an initial appearance in the Middle District of Florida and was detained pending a detention hearing scheduled for April 18, 2013.

According to the complaint, Cilins allegedly attempted to obstruct an ongoing federal grand jury investigation concerning potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and laws proscribing money laundering.  The complaint states the federal grand jury is investigating whether a particular mining company and its affiliates – on whose behalf Cilins has been working – transferred into the United States funds in furtherance of a scheme to obtain and retain valuable mining concessions in the Republic of Guinea’s Simandou region.  During monitored and recorded phone calls and face-to-face meetings, Cilins allegedly agreed to pay substantial sums of money to induce a witness to the bribery scheme to turn over documents to Cilins for destruction, which Cilins knew had been requested by the FBI and needed to be produced before a federal grand jury.  The complaint also alleges that Cilins sought to induce the witness to sign an affidavit containing numerous false statements regarding matters under investigation by the grand jury.

The complaint alleges that the documents Cilins sought to destroy included original copies of contracts between the mining company and its affiliates and the former wife of a now-deceased Guinean government official, who at the relevant time held an office in Guinea that allowed him to influence the award of mining concessions.  The contracts allegedly related to a scheme by which the mining company and its affiliates offered the wife of the Guinean official millions of dollars, which were to be distributed to the official’s wife as well as ministers or senior officials of Guinea’s government whose authority might be needed to secure the mining rights.

According to the complaint, the official’s wife incorporated a company in 2008 that agreed to take all necessary steps to secure the valuable mining rights for the mining company’s subsidiary.  That same contract stipulated that $2 million was to be transferred to the official’s wife’s company and an additional sum was to be “distributed among persons of good will who may have contributed to facilitating the granting of” the valuable mining rights.  According to the complaint, in 2008, the mining company and its affiliates also “commit[ted] to giving 5% of the shares of stock” in particular mining areas in Guinea to the official’s wife.

A complaint is merely an accusation, and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Stephen J. Spiegelhalter of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Elisha J. Kobre of the Southern District of New York.  The case is being investigated by the FBI.  The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs and Office of Enforcement Operations have also assisted in the investigation.

STATEMENT OF ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL BILL BAER ON CHANGES TO ANTITRUST DIVISION’S CARVE-OUT PRACTICE REGARDING CORPORATE PLEA AGREEMENTS

STATEMENT OF ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL BILL BAER ON
CHANGES TO ANTITRUST DIVISION’S CARVE-OUT PRACTICE REGARDING CORPORATE PLEA AGREEMENTS

WASHINGTON — Assistant Attorney General Bill Baer in charge of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division issued the following statement today on changes to the division’s carve-out practice regarding corporate plea agreements:

“Over the years, the Antitrust Division’s efforts to investigate and prosecute price fixing and other cartel conduct have produced outstanding results in holding both corporations and individuals accountable for their wrongdoing. We are committed to continuing these efforts and to build on the division’s past successes.

“Going forward, we are making certain changes to the Antitrust Division’s approach to corporate plea agreements. In the past, the division’s corporate plea agreements have, in appropriate circumstances, included a provision offering non-prosecution protection to those employees of the corporation who cooperate with the investigation and whose conduct does not warrant prosecution. The division excluded, or carved out, employees who were believed to be culpable. In certain circumstances, it also carved out employees who refused to cooperate with the division’s investigation, employees against whom the division was still developing evidence and employees with potentially relevant information who could not be located. The names of all carved-out employees were included in the corporate plea agreements, which were publicly filed in the district courts where the charges were brought.

“As part of a thorough review of the division’s approach to corporate dispositions, we have decided to implement two changes. The division will continue to carve out employees who we have reason to believe were involved in criminal wrongdoing and who are potential targets of our investigation. However, we will no longer carve out employees for reasons unrelated to culpability.

“The division will not include the names of carved-out employees in the plea agreement itself. Those names will instead be listed in an appendix, and we will ask the court for leave to file the appendix under seal. Absent some significant justification, it is ordinarily not appropriate to publicly identify uncharged third-party wrongdoers.

“The Antitrust Division will continue to exclude from the non-prosecution protections of corporate plea agreements any employees whose conduct may warrant prosecution. The division will continue to make these decisions on an employee-by-employee basis consistent with the evidence and the Principles of Federal Prosecution. We will continue to demand the full cooperation of anyone who seeks to benefit from the non-prosecution protection of a corporate plea agreement, and will revoke that protection for anyone who does not fully and truthfully cooperate with division investigations.”

Former Regional Director of Federal Protective Service Pleads Guilty to Accepting Bribes from Government Contractor

Derek Matthews, 46, of Harwood, Md., pleaded guilty today to accepting bribes from a government contracting company in exchange for using his position to help the company find and win contracts.

Neil H. MacBride, U. S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, Mythili Raman, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, and Charles K. Edwards, U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Deputy Inspector General, made the announcement after the plea was accepted by U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema.

Matthews was charged by criminal information on April 11, 2013, with one count of conspiracy to commit bribery.  Matthews faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison when he is sentenced on July 19, 2013.

Matthews served as Deputy Assistant Director for Operations for the DHS’s Federal Protective Services (FPS) and was later promoted to FPS Regional Director for the National Capital Region.  In the fall of 2011, Matthews agreed with Keith Hedman, an executive at an Arlington, Va., security service consulting company referred to as Company B in court records, that in exchange for a monthly payment from Company B and a percentage of any new business obtained, Matthews would use his position to help Company B find and win U.S. government contracts, including with FPS.  Matthews engaged in a series of official acts, including lobbying of government officials and sharing of information with Hedman, in an effort to obtain business for Hedman and Company B. In turn, Hedman and Company B paid Matthews three monthly payments totaling $12,500.

Hedman pleaded guilty on March 18, 2013, to conspiracy to commit bribery in connection with Matthews’ scheme, along with conspiracy to commit major government fraud as part of a separate scheme to fraudulently obtain more than $31 million in government contract payments that should have gone to disadvantaged small businesses.

This case was investigated by the Washington Field Office for the DHS Office of the Inspector General (OIG), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration OIG, the Small Business Administration OIG, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, and the General Services Administration OIG. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Chad Golder and Ryan Faulconer  are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.

Four Former Executives of Lufthansa Subsidiary Bizjet Charged with Foreign Bribery

Charges were unsealed today against four former executives of BizJet International Sales and Support Inc., the U.S.-based subsidiary of Lufthansa Tech nikAG, which provides aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services, for their alleged participation in a scheme to pay bribes to government officials in Latin America, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Assistant Director in Charge Valerie Parlave of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.

According to the charges, Bernd Kowalewski, the former president and chief executive officer of BizJet, Jald Jensen, the former sales manager at BizJet, Peter DuBois, the former vice president of sales and marketing at BizJet, and Neal Uhl, the former vice president of finance at BizJet, paid bribes to officials employed by the Mexican Policia Federal Preventiva, the Mexican Coordinacion General de Transportes Aereos Presidenciales, the air fleet for the Gobierno del Estado de Sinaloa in Mexico, the air fleet for the Estado De Roraima in Brazil, and the Republica de Panama Autoridad Aeronautica Civil in exchange for those officials’ assistance in securing contracts for BizJet to perform MRO services.

Kowalewski and Jensen were charged by indictment filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma on Jan. 5, 2012, with conspiring to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and to launder money, as well as substantive charges of violating the FCPA and money laundering.  The two defendants are believed to remain abroad.

DuBois and Uhl pleaded guilty on Jan. 5, 2012, to criminal informations, and their pleas were unsealed today.  DuBois pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA and one count of violating the FCPA.  Uhl pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA.  Both defendants were sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Gregory K. Frizzell in the Northern District of Oklahoma.  DuBois’s sentence was reduced from a sentencing guidelines range of 108 to 120 months in prison to probation and eight months home detention based on his cooperation in the government’s investigation.  Uhl’s sentence was similarly reduced for cooperation from a guidelines range of 60 months in prison to probation and eight months home detention.

“The charges announced today allege a conspiracy by senior executives at BizJet to win contracts in Latin American countries through bribery and illegal tactics,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Raman.  “Former BizJet executives, including the former president and chief executive officer, allegedly authorized and caused hundreds of thousands of dollars to be paid directly and indirectly to ranking military officials in various foreign countries, and two former executives have pleaded guilty for their roles in the conspiracy.  These charges reflect our continued commitment to holding individuals accountable for violations of the FCPA, including, as in this instance, after entering into a deferred prosecution agreement with their employer.”

“Business executives have a responsibility to act appropriately in order to maintain a fair and competitive international market,” said FBI Assistant Director in Charge Parlave.  “The unsealing of these bribery charges, and today’s sentencing, demonstrate that the FBI is committed to curbing corruption and will pursue all those who try to advance their businesses through bribery.”

The charges allege that the defendants, in many instances, paid bribes directly to foreign officials in Mexico, Panama and Brazil for assistance in securing contracts.  In other instances, the defendants allegedly funneled bribes through a shell company owned and operated by Jensen.  The shell company, Avionica International & Associates Inc., allegedly operated under the pretense of providing aircraft maintenance brokerage services but in reality laundered money related to BizJet’s bribery scheme.  Avionica was located at Jensen’s personal residence in Van Nuys, Calif., and Jensen was the only officer, director and employee.

The charges announced today follow the announcement on March 14, 2012, of a deferred prosecution agreement with BizJet and an $11.8 million monetary penalty to resolve charges related to the corrupt conduct.  That agreement acknowledged BizJet’s voluntary disclosure, extraordinary cooperation and extensive remediation in this case.

The conspiracy to commit violations of the FCPA count carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a fine of the greater of $250,000 or twice the value gained or lost.  The FCPA counts each carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a fine of the greater of $100,000 or twice the value gained or lost.  The conspiracy to commit money laundering count carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of the greater of $500,000 or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction.  The money laundering counts each carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of the greater of $500,000 or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction.

An indictment is merely an accusation, and defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Daniel S. Kahn and Stephen J. Spiegelhalter of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Leitch from the Northern District of Oklahoma has provided assistance in the case.  The department has also worked closely with its law enforcement counterparts in Mexico and Panama in this matter and is grateful for their assistance.  The case is being investigated by FBI agents who are part of the Washington Field Office’s dedicated FCPA squad.

Additional information about the Justice Department’s FCPA enforcement efforts can be found at www.justice.gov/criminal/fraud/fcpa.