WASHINGTON — An executive of Japanese auto parts maker G.S. Electech Inc. pleaded guilty and was sentenced today to serve 13 months in a U.S. prison for his role in an international conspiracy to rig bids and fix prices on auto parts used on antilock brake systems installed in U.S. cars, the Department of Justice announced.

Shingo Okuda, the former Engineering and Sales Division Manager for G.S. Electech, pleaded guilty today in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky in Covington, to a one count charge of bid rigging and price fixing.

As part of his plea agreement, Okuda also agreed to cooperate with the department’s ongoing investigation and to pay a $20,000 criminal fine.

On Sept. 11, 2013, a federal grand jury in Covington, Kentucky, returned an indictment against Okuda, charging him with conspiring to rig bids and fix prices of speed sensor wire assemblies, which are installed in automobiles with an antilock brake system (ABS), sold to Toyota Motor Corp. and Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing North America Inc., in the United States and elsewhere.

According to the indictment, Okuda and his co-conspirators carried out the conspiracy by, among other things, agreeing during meetings and discussions to coordinate bids and fix prices of automotive parts submitted to Toyota.  The indictment charged Okuda with participating in the conspiracy beginning at least as early as January 2003 until at least February 2010.

“Today’s guilty plea is a victory for consumers, who deserve to know that the essential parts used in their automobiles are not subject to anticompetitive agreements,” said Brent Snyder, Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division’s criminal enforcement program.  “The Antitrust Division remains committed to holding executives accountable for behavior that undermines the competitive marketplace.”

G.S. Electech manufactures, assembles and sells a variety of automotive electrical parts, including speed sensor wire assemblies.  The speed sensor wire assemblies connect a sensor on each wheel to the ABS to instruct it when to engage.  On May 16, 2012, G.S. Electech pleaded guilty to the conspiracy and agreed to pay a $2.75 million criminal fine.

Okuda is charged with price fixing in violation of the Sherman Act, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1 million criminal fine for individuals.  The maximum fine for an individual may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by the victims of the crime, if either of those amounts is greater than the statutory maximum fine.

Including Okuda, 36 individuals have been charged in the department’s ongoing investigation into price fixing and bid rigging in the auto parts industry.  Okuda is the first individual in the investigation to plead guilty following an indictment.  Additionally, 27 companies have pleaded guilty or agreed to plead guilty and have agreed to pay a total of nearly $2.3 billion in fines.

Today’s guilty plea arose from an ongoing federal antitrust investigation into price fixing, bid rigging and other anticompetitive conduct in the automotive parts industry, which is being conducted by each of the Antitrust Division’s criminal enforcement sections and the FBI.  Today’s guilty plea was brought by the Antitrust Division’s Washington Criminal I Section, with the assistance of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office, with the assistance of the FBI headquarters’ International Corruption Unit.  Anyone with information on price fixing, bid rigging and other anticompetitive conduct related to other products in the automotive parts industry should contact the Antitrust Division’s Citizen Complaint Center at 1-888-647-3258, visit www.justice.gov/atr/contact/newcase.html or call the FBI’s Detroit Field Office at 313-965-2323.

Director of Nursing Pleads Guilty in Miami for Role in $7 Million Health Care Fraud Scheme

A former director of nursing pleaded guilty today in connection with a health care fraud scheme involving Anna Nursing Services Corp. (Anna Nursing), a defunct home health care company in Miami.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida, Special Agent in Charge George L. Piro of the FBI’s Miami Field Office, and Acting Special Agent in Charge Ryan Lynch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), Office of Investigations Miami office made the announcement.
Armando Buchillon, 42, of Hialeah, Florida, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Joan A. Lenard in the Southern District of Florida to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud.    Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 6, 2014, before Judge Lenard.
According to court documents, Buchillon was a director of nursing at Anna Nursing, a Miami home health care agency that purported to provide home health and therapy services to Medicare beneficiaries.    The owners and operators of Anna Nursing agreed to and actually did operate Anna Nursing for the purpose of billing the Medicare Program for, among other things, expensive physical therapy and home health care services that were not medically necessary and/or were not provided.
As part of the fraudulent scheme, Buchillon and his co-conspirators regularly falsified patient documentation in order to make it appear that beneficiaries qualified for and received home health care services, when, in fact, many of the beneficiaries did not actually qualify for or receive such services.    In addition, Buchillon paid kickbacks and bribes to patient recruiters, in return for the recruiters providing patients to Anna Nursing for home health care and therapy services that were medically unnecessary and/or were not provided.    Buchillon also worked as a patient recruiter for Anna Nursing and was paid kickbacks and bribes by the owner of Anna Nursing.    Buchillon and his co-conspirators caused the submission of false and fraudulent claims to Medicare on behalf of these beneficiaries.
From approximately October 2010 through approximately April 2013, Anna Nursing was paid by Medicare approximately $7 million for fraudulent claims for home health care services that were medically unnecessary and/or were not provided.
The case was investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under the supervision of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida.    This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys A. Brendan Stewart and Anne P. McNamara of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.
Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged nearly 1,900 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $6 billion.  In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.
To learn more about the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), go to: www.stopmedicarefraud.gov .



Former U.S. Navy Military Sealift Command Manager Sentenced for Receiving Bribes

Kenny E. Toy, 54, the former Afloat Programs Manager at the United States Navy Military Sealift Command, was sentenced today to serve 96 months in prison for receiving bribes.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, United States Attorney Dana J. Boente of the Eastern District of Virginia, Special Agent in Charge Robert Craig of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) Mid-Atlantic Field Office, Acting Executive Assistant Director Charles T. May Jr. of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) Atlantic Operations and Special Agent in Charge Royce E. Curtin of the FBI’s Norfolk Field Office made the announcement today after sentencing by United States Chief Judge Rebecca Beach Smith of the Eastern District of Virginia.

On Feb. 12, 2014, Toy pleaded guilty to a criminal information charging him with one count of bribery.   According to the statement of facts filed with Toy’s plea agreement, Toy was employed as the Afloat Programs Manager in the N6 Command, Control, Communication, and Computer Systems Directorate at the Military Sealift Command, which is the leading provider of transportation for the United States Navy.  In approximately November 2004, Toy joined an extensive bribery conspiracy that spanned five years, involved multiple co-conspirators, including two different companies, and resulted in the payment of more than $265,000 in cash bribes, among other things of value, to Toy and to Scott B. Miserendino Sr., a former government contractor who performed work for the Military Sealift Command.

At his plea hearing, Toy admitted that he accepted monthly cash bribes of approximately $3,000, as well as a flat screen television and a paid vacation to the Outer Banks in North Carolina, from co-conspirators Dwayne A. Hardman, Roderic J. Smith, Michael P. McPhail and Adam C. White, all of whom were employed at a government contracting company referred to as Company A in court documents.  Toy also admitted that he accepted a $50,000 cash bribe in May 2009 from Hardman and another co-conspirator, Timothy S. Miller, both of whom were employed at a government contracting company referred to as Company B in court documents.  In exchange for the bribes, Toy provided favorable treatment to Company A and Company B in connection with Military Sealift Command related business.

As part of his guilty plea, Toy also admitted to engaging in a scheme to conceal his criminal activity.  Toy admitted to causing more than $88,000 to be paid to Hardman in an attempt to prevent Hardman from reporting the bribery scheme to law enforcement authorities.

Toy was also ordered to serve a supervised release term of three years following his prison sentence, and ordered to forfeit $100,000.

Earlier this year, four other individuals pleaded guilty in connection with the bribery scheme.  On Feb. 18, 2014, Hardman, the co-founder of Company A and Company B, pleaded guilty to providing bribes to Toy and Miserendino.   On Feb. 19, 2014, McPhail, a former employee at Company A, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery.   On April 4, 2014, White, a former vice president at Company A, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery.   On March 5, 2014, Smith, the former president of Company A, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to bribe public officials.   On June 23, 2014, United States District Judge Henry Coke Morgan sentenced Smith to serve 48 months in prison followed by one year of supervised release and ordered him to forfeit $175,000.

On May 23, 2014, a grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia indicted Miserendino and Timothy S. Miller, a businessman whose company sought contracting business from the Military Sealift Command.   The indictment charges Miserendino with one count of conspiracy to commit bribery, one count of bribery, one count of conspiracy to commit obstruction of criminal investigations and to commit tampering with a witness, and one count of obstruction of criminal investigations.   The indictment charges Miller with one count of conspiracy to commit bribery and two counts of bribery.   Trial is set for Sept. 30, 2014, before Chief Judge Rebecca Beach Smith.

Charges contained in an indictment are merely allegations, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The case was investigated by the FBI, NCIS and DCIS.   The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney Emily Rae Woods of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen W. Haynie of the Eastern District of Virginia.

CCC’s: Current Status of the Antitrust Division’s Real Estate Foreclosure Auction Bid Rigging Cases and Some Suggestions Moving Forward

Current Status of the Antitrust Division’s Real Estate Foreclosure Auction Bid Rigging Cases and Some Suggestions Moving Forward

Earlier this year, the Division had its first trial in its ongoing real estate foreclosure auction bid rigging investigation. Three defendants, two real estate investors and an auctioneer, were indicted for bid rigging and mail fraud. The trial lasted four weeks. The auctioneer was acquitted. The other two defendants were acquitted of the fraud charges, but convicted of the Sherman Act violation. The jury also convicted one defendant, Andrew Katakis, of obstruction of justice.   Katakis was charged with destroying electronic records (emails) related to the conspiracy. The trial judge, however, overturned the obstruction conviction for lack of evidence.

On June 6, 2014, the government filed a notice of appeal from the court’s acquittal order regarding the obstruction count. In view of that appeal, the court ordered, “all proceedings in this action are hereby stayed pending receipt of an order of remand from the Court of Appeals.” The government asked the trial court to lift the stay explaining: “If all proceedings in this Court remain stayed pending resolution of the government’s appeal, Katakis and Parker face a long wait for a ruling on their new trial motions and, depending on those rulings, for a new trial or sentencing Lifting the stay also avoids unnecessary delays in the sentencings of the other defendants in this case, none of whom were charged with obstruction. Some of them pleaded guilty long before trial and have cooperated with the government for years.”  Individuals who have pleaded guilty so far, beginning in 2011, are cooperating in the ongoing investigation and the Division has requested successfully that their sentencing be delayed until after their cooperation has been substantially complete. Accordingly, there have been no sentencings yet, and with this recent development, it appears sentencing could be delayed into at least 2015.

The Division to date has charged approximately 60 individuals in its California real estate foreclosure auction cases. (A similar far-reaching real estate auction collusion investigation is taking place in the Atlanta region) …*   *   *   *

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Iraq Extradites Fugitive Defense Contractor to U.S. to Face Fraud Charges

A Las Vegas-based former Department of Defense contractor has been extradited from Iraq to the United States to face fraud and conspiracy charges for attempting to bribe U.S. officials in order to secure government contracts for his companies.   Metin Atilan, 54, is the first person extradited from Iraq to the United States pursuant to the U.S.-Iraq extradition treaty signed on June 7, 1934 and entered into force in 1936.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Carter M. Stewart of the Southern District of Ohio, Special Agent in Charge Kevin Cornelius of the FBI’s Cincinnati Office and Resident Agent in Charge Bret Flinn of the Defense Criminal Investigation Service (DCIS) made the announcement.
“This historic extradition from Iraq to the United States is an example of our cooperation with law enforcement worldwide to bring fugitives to justice,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell.  “Atilan’s return to the United States, after more than six years on the run, sends a clear message to fugitives: no matter where in the world you try to hide, we will find you, and we will prosecute you.”
“ This case is a tremendous example of a successfully organized and cooperative law enforcement effort put forth by the FBI, DCIS, Interpol and the Iraqi government,” said Special Agent in Charge Cornelius.  “I commend the work of the FBI’s Legal Attaché  Office and the U.S. Embassy Country Team in Iraq. They have garnered a superior level of law enforcement cooperation between the FBI and Iraqi officials. Without their support, this extradition would not have been possible.”
Atilan, a dual U.S. and Turkish citizen, is scheduled to appear today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael R. Merz of the Southern District of Ohio.
Atilan was charged by indictment on June 10, 2008, with conspiracy to engage in contract fraud, conspiracy to engage in wire fraud, and wire fraud.    According to court documents, Atilan is p resident and chief executive officer of PMA Services Ltd. of Las Vegas and Kayteks Ltd. of Adna, Turkey.    In 2006 through 2008, Atilan offered bribes and kickbacks in order to secure contracts for businesses he owned in connection with services and construction associated with U.S. military operations in Iraq.    Some of the Defense Department contracting officials who Atilan is accused of trying to bribe were stationed in Dayton at the time.
Atilan was first arrested in Las Vegas on May 23, 2008.  Atilan was placed on electronic monitoring pending his formal hearing before a federal judge in Dayton, Ohio.    On June 15, 2008, Atilan allegedly violated the terms of his pretrial release by cutting off his electronic bracelet and fleeing the country.    The government sought his extradition, and Atilan arrived in Dayton, Ohio on July 27, 2014.
An indictment is merely an accusation, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
This case was investigated by the FBI and DCIS.    The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Dwight Keller of the Southern District of Ohio with assistance from Trial Attorney Dan E. Stigall of the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs and Department of Justice Attaché Ellen Endrizzi.    The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs also provided assistance.


Lloyds Banking Group Admits Wrongdoing In LIBOR Investigation,  Agrees To Pay $86 Million Criminal Penalty

WASHINGTON — Lloyds Banking Group plc has entered into an agreement with the Department of Justice to pay an $86 million penalty for manipulation of submissions for the London InterBank Offered Rate (LIBOR), a leading global benchmark interest rate.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brent Snyder of the Antitrust Division, and Assistant Director in Charge Valerie Parlave of the FBI’s Washington Field Office made the announcement.

A criminal information will be filed today in U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut that charges Lloyds as part of a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA).  The information charges Lloyds with wire fraud for its role in manipulating LIBOR.  In addition to the $86 million penalty, the DPA requires the bank to admit and accept responsibility for its misconduct as described in an extensive statement of facts.  Lloyds has agreed to continue cooperating with the Justice Department in its ongoing investigation of the manipulation of benchmark interest rates by other financial institutions and individuals.

“For more than three years, traders at Lloyds manipulated the bank’s LIBOR submissions for three currencies to benefit the trading positions of themselves and their friends, to the detriment of the parties on the other side of the trades,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell.  “Because investors and consumers rely on LIBOR’s integrity, rate-rigging fundamentally undermines confidence in financial markets.  Lloyds is the fifth major financial institution that has admitted LIBOR manipulation and paid a criminal penalty, and nine individuals have been criminally charged by the Justice Department.  Our active investigation continues, as we work to restore trust in the markets.”

“Lloyds manipulated benchmark rates, allowing its traders to increase their profits unfairly and fraudulently,” said Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brent Snyder of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division.  “Lloyds’s conduct undermined financial markets domestically and abroad, and today’s charges send a clear message that we will continue to bring those responsible to justice.”

“Manipulating financial trading markets to create an unfair advantage is against the law,” said Assistant Director in Charge Parlave. “Today’s agreement further underscores the FBI’s ability to investigate complex international financial crimes and bring the perpetrators to justice. The Washington Field Office has committed significant time and resources including the expertise of Special Agents, forensic accountants and analysts to investigate this case along with our Department of Justice colleagues. Their efforts send a clear message to anyone contemplating financial crimes: think twice or you will face the consequences.”

Together with approximately $283 million in criminal and regulatory penalties imposed by other agencies in actions arising out of the same conduct – $105 million by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), and approximately $178 million by the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) – the Justice Department’s $86 million criminal penalty brings the total amount to be paid by Lloyds to almost $370 million.

According to signed documents, LIBOR is an average interest rate, calculated based upon submissions from leading banks around the world and reflecting the rates those banks believe they would be charged if borrowing from other banks.  LIBOR serves as the primary benchmark for short-term interest rates globally and is used as a reference rate for many interest rate contracts, mortgages, credit cards, student loans and other consumer lending products.  The Bank of International Settlements estimated that as of the second half of 2009, outstanding interest rate contracts were valued at approximately $450 trillion.

At the time relevant to the conduct in the criminal information, LIBOR was published by the British Bankers’ Association (BBA), a trade association based in London.  LIBOR was calculated for 10 currencies at 15 borrowing periods, known as maturities, ranging from overnight to one year.  The LIBOR for a given currency at a specific maturity was the result of a calculation based upon submissions from a panel of banks for that currency (the Contributor Panel) selected by the BBA.  From at least 2006 through the present, Lloyds (through its subsidiaries) has been a member of the Contributor Panel for a number of currencies, including United States Dollar LIBOR, Pound Sterling LIBOR, and Yen LIBOR.

According to the statement of facts accompanying the agreement, between at least as early as 2006 and at least as late as July 2009, Lloyds’s LIBOR submitters for Dollar LIBOR, Yen LIBOR, and Pound Sterling LIBOR submitted LIBOR contributions intended to benefit their own trading positions or the trading positions of others, rather than rates that complied with the definition of LIBOR.  When Lloyds LIBOR submitters contributed LIBOR submissions to benefit trading positions, the manipulation of the submissions affected the fixed rates on occasion.

According to signed documents, on May 19, 2009, a money markets trader who was a former Dollar LIBOR submitter at a subsidiary of Lloyds wrote to the then-current Dollar LIBOR submitter: “have 5 yard [billion] 3 month liability rolls today so would be advantageous to have lower 3month libor setting if doesn’t conflict with any of your fix’s.”  Later that day, the Dollar LIBOR submitter told the money markets trader in a phone call: “obviously we got the Libors down for you.”

In another example, on March 6, 2009, a money markets trader who was a former Pound Sterling LIBOR submitter for a subsidiary of Lloyds told the then-current Pound Sterling LIBOR submitter: “Um, I’m paying on 12 yards [billions] of 1s today, . . . so if there is any way of making 1s relatively low it would just be helpful for us all.”  That day, the Pound Sterling LIBOR submitter contributed a rate that was ten basis points lower than the previous day’s submission.

Also according to the statement of facts, a Yen LIBOR submitter and a former submitter at Coöperatieve Centrale Raiffeisen-Boerenleenbank B.A. (Rabobank) who traded money-markets and derivatives products had an agreement to submit Yen LIBOR contributions that benefitted their respective trading positions, rather than submissions that complied with the definition of LIBOR.

For example, on July 28, 2006, the Rabobank submitter wrote to the Yen LIBOR submitter: “morning skipper…..will be setting an obscenely high 1m again today…poss 38 just fyi.”  The Yen LIBOR submitter responded: “(K)…oh dear..my poor customers….hehehe!! manual input libors again today then!!!!”  Both banks’ submissions on July 28 moved up one basis point, from 0.37 to 0.38.

This ongoing investigation is being conducted by special agents, forensic accountants, and intelligence analysts of the FBI’s Washington Field Office. The prosecution of Lloyds is being handled by Trial Attorney Patrick Pericak of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Trial Attorney Michael T. Koenig of the Antitrust Division. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Chris Mattei and Michael McGarry of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut, along with the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs, have provided valuable assistance in this matter.

The investigation leading to these cases has required, and has greatly benefited from, a diligent and wide-ranging cooperative effort among various enforcement agencies both in the United States and abroad. The Justice Department acknowledges and expresses its deep appreciation for this assistance. In particular, the CFTC’s Division of Enforcement referred this matter to the department and, along with the FCA, has played a major role in the investigation. Various agencies and enforcement authorities from other nations are also participating in different aspects of the broader investigation relating to LIBOR and other benchmark rates, and the department is grateful for their cooperation and assistance. In particular, the Securities and Exchange Commission has played a significant role in the LIBOR investigation, and the department expresses its appreciation to the United Kingdom’s Serious Fraud Office for its assistance and ongoing cooperation.

This prosecution is part of efforts underway by President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. President Obama established the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes.

French Citizen Sentenced for Obstructing a Criminal Investigation into Alleged Bribes Paid to Win Mining Rights in Guinea

Frederic Cilins, a 51-year old French citizen, was sentenced today in the Southern District of New York to 24 months in prison for obstructing a federal criminal investigation into alleged bribes to obtain mining concessions in the Republic of Guinea.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara of the Southern District of New York and Assistant Director in Charge George Venizelos of the FBI’s New York Field Office made the announcement.    The sentence was imposed by U.S. District Court Judge William H. Pauley III.
“Cilins offered to bribe a witness in an FCPA investigation to stop the witness from talking to the FBI,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell.  “Today’s sentence holds Cilins accountable for his effort to undermine the integrity of our justice system, and sends a message that those who interfere with federal investigations will be prosecuted and sent to prison.”
“Frederic Cilins went to great lengths to thwart a Manhattan federal grand jury’s investigation into an alleged bribery scheme in the Republic of Guinea,” said U.S. Attorney Bharara.  “In an effort to prevent the federal authorities from learning the truth, Cilins paid a witness for her silence and to destroy key documents.  Today, Cilins learned that no one can manipulate justice.”
“Cilins obstructed the efforts of the FBI during the course of this investigation,” said Director in Charge Venizelos.  “His guilty plea and sentence demonstrate our shared commitment with the department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney’s Office to hold accountable those who seek to interfere with the administration of justice. This case should be a reminder to all those who try to circumvent the efforts of a law enforcement investigation: the original crime and the cover-up both lend themselves to prosecution.”
According to court documents, Cilins obstructed an ongoing federal investigation concerning potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and other crimes.    Federal law enforcement was investigating whether a particular mining company with which Cilins was affiliated paid bribes to officials of a former governmental regime in the Republic of Guinea 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 agreed to pay substantial sums of money to induce a witness to the alleged bribery scheme to leave the United States to avoid questioning by the FBI, as well as to give documents to Cilins for destruction that had been requested by the FBI as part of the investigation.    Cilins also sought to induce the witness to sign an affidavit containing false statements regarding matters under investigation by the grand jury.    That witness was the former wife of a now-deceased Guinean government official who held an office in Guinea that allowed him to influence the award of mining concessions.
Cilins pleaded guilty on March 10, 2014 to a one-count superseding information charging him with obstruction of a federal investigation.    In addition to his sentence, he was ordered to pay a fine of $75,000 and forfeit $20,000.
The case was investigated by the FBI.    The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Tarek Helou of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant United States Attorney Elisha J. Kobre of the Southern District of New York.    The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs and Office of Enforcement Operations provided valuable assistance in the investigation.
Additional information about the Justice Department’s FCPA enforcement efforts can be found at www.justice.gov/criminal/fraud/fcpa .


Stucke and Grunes quoted in NYT: “When Media Mergers Limit More Than Competition”

And this is simply to apply the same standards to a Fox-Time Warner combination that the Justice Department applies to all industries, whether they make cement, household appliances or movies. “When you’re dealing with media, you’ve got to look more carefully at the impact than with other commodities,” said Allen P. Grunes, an antitrust lawyer at the firm GeyerGorey, and an author, with Maurice E. Stucke, of “Antitrust and the Marketplace of Ideas.” “It has an impact on democracy and what the public discourse is.”

To look only at price competition and economic efficiency “makes no sense whatsoever” in the media context, added Mr. Stucke, a law professor at the University of Tennessee. In their article, published in 2001 while both were lawyers with the antitrust division in Washington, they argued that any analysis of competition in media mergers should include the impact on “the marketplace of ideas,” where competition “advances truth.”

Former Chief Executive Officer of Lufthansa Subsidiary BizJet Pleads Guilty to Foreign Bribery Charges

The former president and chief executive officer of BizJet International Sales and Support Inc., a U.S.-based subsidiary of Lufthansa Technik AG with headquarters in Tulsa, Oklahoma, that provides aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul services, pleaded guilty today for his participation in a scheme to pay bribes to foreign government officials.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Danny C. Williams Sr., of the Northern District of Oklahoma and Assistant Director in Charge Valerie Parlave of the FBI’s Washington Field Office made the announcement.
“The former CEO of BizJet, Bernd Kowalewski, has become the third and most senior Bizjet executive to plead guilty to bribing officials in Mexico and Panama to get contracts for aircraft services,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell.  “While Kowalewski and his fellow executives referred to the corrupt payments as ‘commissions’ and ‘incentives,’ they were bribes, plain and simple.  Though he was living abroad when the charges were unsealed, the reach of the law extends beyond U.S. borders, resulting in Kowalewski’s arrest in Amsterdam and his appearance in court today in the United States.  Today’s guilty plea is an example of our continued determination to hold corporate executives responsible for criminal wrongdoing whenever the evidence allows.”
“I commend the investigators and prosecutors who worked together across borders and jurisdictions to vigorously enforce the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act,” said U.S. Attorney Williams.  “Partnership is a necessity in all investigations. By forging and strengthening international partnerships to combat bribery, the Department of Justice is advancing its efforts to prevent crime and to protect citizens.”
Bernd Kowalewski, 57, the former President and CEO of BizJet, pleaded guilty today in federal court in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and a substantive violation of the FCPA in connection with a scheme to pay bribes to officials in Mexico and Panama in exchange for those officials’ assistance in securing contracts for BizJet to perform aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul services.
Kowalewski was arrested on a provisional arrest warrant by authorities in Amsterdam on March 13, 2014, and waived extradition on June 20, 2014.    Kowalewski is the third BizJet executive to plead guilty in this case.    Peter DuBois, the former Vice President of Sales and Marketing, pleaded guilty on Jan. 5, 2012, to conspiracy to violate the FCPA and a substantive violation of the FCPA and Neal Uhl, the former Vice President of Finance, pleaded guilty on Jan. 5, 2012, to conspiracy to violate the FCPA.    Jald Jensen, the former sales manager at BizJet, has been indicted for conspiracy as well as substantive FCPA violations and money laundering and is believed to be living abroad.

Charges were unsealed against the four defendants on April 5, 2013.
According to court filings, Kowalewski and his co-conspirators paid bribes directly to foreign officials to secure aircraft maintenance repair and overhaul contracts, and in some instances, the defendants funneled bribes to foreign officials through a shell company owned and operated by Jensen.    The shell company, Avionica International & Associates Inc., operated under the pretense of providing aircraft maintenance brokerage services but in reality laundered money related to BizJet’s bribery scheme.    Bribes were paid 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, the air fleet for the Gobierno del Estado de Sonora and the Republica de Panama Autoridad Aeronautica Civil.
Further according to court filings, the co-conspirators discussed in e-mail correspondence and at corporate meetings the need to pay bribes, which they referred to internally as “commissions” or “incentives,” to officials employed by the foreign government agencies in order to secure the contracts.    At one meeting, for example, in response to a question about who the decision-maker was at a particular customer organization, DuBois stated that a director of maintenance or chief pilot was normally responsible for decisions on where an aircraft went for maintenance work.    Kowalewski then responded by explaining that the directors of maintenance and chief pilots in the past received “commissions” of $3,000 to $5,000 but were now demanding $30,000 to $40,000 in “commissions.” Similarly, in e-mail correspondence between Uhl, DuBois, Kowalewski, and several others, Uhl responded to a question about BizJet’s financial outlook if “incentives” paid to brokers, directors of maintenance, or chief pilots continued to increase industry wide, stating that they would “work to build these fees into the revenue as much as possible.    We must remain competitive in this respect to maintain and gain market share.”
On March 14, 2012, the department announced that it had entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with BizJet, requiring that BizJet pay 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.    In addition, the department announced on March 14, 2012, that BizJet’s indirect parent company, Lufthansa Technik AG, entered into an agreement with the department in which the department agreed not to prosecute Lufthansa Technik provided that Lufthansa Technik satisfies its obligations under the agreement for a period of three years.
This case is being investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office with substantial assistance form the Oklahoma Field Office.    The department has worked closely with its law enforcement counterparts in Amsterdam, Mexico and Panama, and has received significant assistance from Germany and Uruguay.    The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs has also provided assistance.    This case is being prosecuted by Assistant Chief Daniel S. Kahn and Trial Attorney David Fuhr of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Leitch of the Northern District of Oklahoma.

$80 Million Judgment Entered Against BNP Paribas for False Claims to the U.S. Department of Agriculture

The Department of Justice announced today that an $80 million False Claims Act judgment was entered against BNP Paribas for submitting false claims for payment guarantees issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).  BNP Paribas is a global financial institution headquartered in Paris.

“We will not tolerate the misuse of taxpayer funded programs designed to help American businesses,” said Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Division Stuart F. Delery.  “Companies that abuse these programs will be held accountable.”

The United States filed a lawsuit against BNP Paribas in connection with its receipt of payment guarantees under USDA’s Supplier Credit Guarantee (SCG) Program.  The program provided payment guarantees to U.S.-based exporters for their sales of grain and other agricultural commodities to importers in foreign countries.  The program encouraged American exporters to sell American agricultural commodities to foreign importers and covered part of the losses if the foreign importers failed to pay.  The SCG Program regulations provided that U.S. exporters were ineligible to participate in the SCG Program if the exporter and foreign importer were under common ownership or control.

The judgment entered by the court resolves the government’s allegations that, from 1998 to 2005, BNP Paribas participated in a sustained scheme to defraud the SCG Program.  In furtherance of the scheme, American exporters and Mexican importers who were under common control improperly obtained SCG Program export credit guarantees for transactions between the affiliated exporters and importers.  In some cases, the underlying transactions were shams and did not involve any real shipment of grain.  BNP Paribas accepted assignment of the credit guarantees from the American exporters, even though it knew that the affiliated exporters and importers were ineligible for SCG Program financing, and a BNP Paribas vice-president, Jerry Cruz, received bribes from the exporters.  Beginning in April 2005, when the Mexican importers began defaulting on their payment obligations, BNP Paribas submitted claims to the USDA for the resulting losses.

On Jan. 20, 2012, Cruz pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud, mail fraud and wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

“I would like to thank the Department of Justice and the USDA General Counsel’s office for their collaboration in recovering $80 million under this judgment,” said Administrator of USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service Phil Karsting.  “This illustrates the importance USDA and this administration places on protecting the integrity of our programs.”

The resolution of this matter was the result of a coordinated effort among the Commercial Litigation Branch of the Justice Department’s Civil Division, the USDA, the USDA Office of Inspector General, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation.

The lawsuit is captioned United States v. BNP Paribas SA, et al., No. 4:11 cv 3718 (S.D. Tex.).