Former U.S. Naval Attaché and Military Advisor to the U.S. Ambassador in the Philippines Sentenced for Taking Bribes

Friday, June 16, 2017

A Retired U.S. Navy Captain was sentenced in federal court today to 41 months in prison for his role in a massive bribery and fraud scheme involving foreign defense contractor Leonard Glenn Francis and his firm, Singapore-based, Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA).

Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting U.S. Attorney Alana W. Robinson Southern District of California, Director Dermot O’Reilly of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service and Director Andrew Traver of the NCIS made the announcement.

In addition to the 41-month prison sentence, U.S. District Judge Janis L. Sammartino ordered Michael Brooks, 59, of Fairfax Station, Virginia, to pay a $41,000 fine and $31,000 in restitution to the U.S. Navy.  Brooks pleaded guilty in November 2016 to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery.

Brooks, who served as the U.S. Naval Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Manila, Philippines, from 2006 to 2008, has admitted accepting bribes of travel and entertainment expenses, hotel rooms and the services of prostitutes. In return, Brooks admitted that he used his power and influence to benefit GDMA and Francis, including by securing quarterly clearances for GDMA vessels, which allowed GDMA vessels to transit into and out of the Philippines under the diplomatic imprimatur of the U.S. Embassy. Neither GDMA nor any other defense contractor has ever been granted such unfettered clearances.

Brooks admitted that he also allowed Francis to ghostwrite official U.S. Navy documents and correspondence, which Brooks submitted as his own. For example, Brooks admitted allowing GDMA to complete its own contractor performance evaluations. A November 2007 evaluation, drafted by GDMA and submitted by Brooks, described the company’s performance as “phenomenal,” “unsurpassed,” “exceptional” and “world class.” Brooks also admitted providing Francis with sensitive, internal U.S. Navy information, including U.S. Navy ship schedules and billing information belonging to a GDMA competitor, at times using a private Yahoo! e-mail account to mask his illicit acts.

Twenty-one current and former Navy officials have been charged so far in the fraud and bribery investigation; 10 have pleaded guilty and 10 cases are pending. In addition, five GDMA executives and GDMA the corporation have pleaded guilty.

NCIS, DCIS and DCAA are conducting the ongoing investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mark W. Pletcher and Patrick Hovakimian of the Southern District of California and Assistant Chief Brian R. Young of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section are prosecuting the case.

Anyone with information relating to fraud, corruption or waste in government contracting should contact the NCIS anonymous tip line at www.ncis.navy.mil or the DOD Hotline at www.dodig.mil/hotline, or call (800) 424-9098.

Guilty Plea in Bribery Scheme Involving $800 Million Vietnamese Real Estate Deal

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Defendant Double-Crossed His Clients and Stole a $500,000 Bribe Intended to Influence a South Korean Company’s Sale of the Landmark 72 Building in Hanoi, Vietnam

The middleman in a foreign bribery scheme pleaded guilty today to wire fraud and money laundering charges for his role in a scheme to bribe a foreign official in the Middle East to land a real estate deal, and to defrauding his co-schemers.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim for the Southern District of New York, and Assistant Director in Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. of the FBI’s New York Field Office made the announcement.

Malcolm Harris pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering charges arising from his role as a middleman in a corrupt scheme to pay millions of dollars in bribes to a foreign official (“Foreign Official-1”) of a country in the Middle East (“Country-1”). The bribes were intended to facilitate the sale by South Korean construction company Keangnam Enterprises Co., Ltd. (“Keangnam”) of a 72-story commercial building known as Landmark 72 in Hanoi, Vietnam, to Country-1’s sovereign wealth fund (the “Fund”) for $800 million. Instead of paying an initial $500,000 bribe to Foreign Official-1 as he had promised, Harris simply pocketed the money and spent it on himself. Harris pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos who is scheduled to sentence Harris on September 27.

According to the allegations contained in the Indictment to which Harris pleaded guilty, and statements made during the plea and other court proceedings:

From in or about March 2013 through in or about May 2015, Harris co-defendants Joo Hyun Bahn, a/k/a “Dennis Bahn” (“Bahn”) and his father Ban Ki Sang (“Ban”) engaged in an international conspiracy to bribe Foreign Official-1 in connection with the attempted $800 million sale of a building complex in Hanoi, Vietnam, known as Landmark 72.

During this time, Ban was a senior executive at Keangnam, a South Korean construction company that built and owned Landmark 72. Ban convinced Keangnam to hire his son Bahn, who worked as a broker at a commercial real estate firm in Manhattan, to secure an investor for Landmark 72.

Instead of obtaining financing through legitimate channels, Bahn and Ban engaged in a corrupt scheme to pay bribes to Foreign Official-1, through Harris, who held himself out as an agent of Foreign Official-1, to induce Foreign Official-1 to use his influence to convince the Fund to acquire Landmark 72 for approximately $800 million. In furtherance of the scheme, Harris sent Bahn numerous emails purportedly sent by Foreign Official-1 and bearing Foreign Official-1’s name. In or about April 2014, following communications with Harris, Bahn and Ban agreed to pay, through Harris, a $500,000 upfront bribe and a $2,000,000 bribe upon the close of the sale of Landmark 72 to Foreign Official-1 on behalf of Keangnam.

Unbeknownst to Bahn or Ban, however, Harris did not have the claimed relationship with Foreign Official-1 and did not intend to pay the bribe money to Foreign Official-1. Instead, Harris simply stole the $500,000 upfront bribe arranged by Bahn and Ban, which Harris then spent on lavish personal expenses, including rent for a luxury penthouse apartment in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

*                *                *

Harris, 53, of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, and one count of conducting monetary transactions in illicit funds, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. The maximum potential sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.

The case against Bahn is pending before Judge Ramos, and Ban is a fugitive believed to be residing in South Korea. All defendants are presumed innocent unless and until convicted beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The FBI’s International Corruption Squad in New York City investigated the case. In 2015, the FBI formed International Corruption Squads across the country to address national and international implications of foreign corruption. Trial Attorney Dennis R. Kihm of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel S. Noble of the Southern District of New York are prosecuting the case. The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs also provided substantial assistance in this matter.

The Fraud Section is responsible for investigating and prosecuting all FCPA matters. Additional information about the Justice Department’s FCPA enforcement efforts can be found at www.justice.gov/criminal-fraud/foreign-corrupt-practices-act.

Fifa Audit And Compliance Committee Member Pleads Guilty To Corruption Charges

Department of Justice U.S. Attorney’s Office

Eastern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Fifa Audit And Compliance Committee Member Pleads Guilty To Corruption Charges
Defendant Accepted and Facilitated Bribes Within the Asian Football Confederation
Earlier today, Richard K. Lai, a United States citizen, pleaded guilty to a criminal information charging him with two counts of wire fraud conspiracy in connection with his participation in multiple schemes to accept and pay bribes to soccer officials. Lai also pleaded guilty to one count of failing to disclose foreign bank accounts and agreed to pay more than $1.1 million in forfeiture and penalties. The plea was entered before United States District Judge Pamela K. Chen at federal courthouse in Brooklyn, New York.

 

The guilty plea was announced by Bridget M. Rohde, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI); and Special Agent-in-Charge R. Damon Rowe, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, Los Angeles Field Office (IRS).

 

“Today’s plea marks another important step in our ongoing effort to root out corruption in international soccer,” stated Acting United States Attorney Rohde. “The defendant abused the trust placed in him as a soccer official in order to line his own pockets, and now he will be held to account. The defendant’s breach of trust was particularly significant given his position as a member of the FIFA Audit and Compliance committee, which must play an important and independent role if corruption within FIFA is to be eliminated.”
“Years of this systemic culture of corruption and greed have tainted one of the world’s most popular sports,” stated Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney. “Kickbacks and bribes became the norm for doing business with FIFA, but not anymore. The plea deal today and all the other cases tied to this investigation prove our work isn’t done, and we will continue to pursue anyone who had their hands in illegal activity.”
“Today’s guilty plea by Guam Football Association president Richard K. Lai, reaffirms the dedication of IRS Criminal Investigation to use our financial investigative expertise to uncover corrupt schemes and illicit payments involving FIFA officials,” stated Special Agent-in-Charge Rowe. “Co-conspirators may try to hide and launder the proceeds of their corrupt self-enrichment, but as mentioned in the legal documents filed today, IRS-CI Special Agents will trace and uncover those funds both through the U.S. financial system and beyond, to offshore jurisdictions in locations such as Asia, the Middle East, and around the globe.”
As alleged in the criminal information to which he pleaded guilty, Lai, a resident of the U.S. territory of Guam, has served as the president of the Guam Football Association (GFA) since 2001. In that capacity, Lai had a vote in FIFA presidential elections. Lai has also served at various times as a member and chair of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Finance Committee and a member of the AFC Executive Committee, and is currently a member of the AFC Marketing Committee and the FIFA Audit and Compliance Committee.

 

As also set forth in the information, Lai pleaded guilty to a scheme in which he received $100,000 in bribes in 2011 from an official of the AFC who was then running for the FIFA presidency, in exchange for Lai’s vote and support in the then-upcoming FIFA presidential election.

 

As further described in the information, Lai also pleaded guilty to a scheme in which he received over $850,000 in bribes between 2009 and 2014 from a faction of soccer officials in the AFC region. Lai received those bribes in exchange for using his influence as a soccer official to advance the interests of the faction that bribed him, including by helping officials in that faction identify other officials in the AFC to whom they should offer bribes. The goal of this scheme was for the faction to gain control of the AFC and influence FIFA.

 

The guilty plea announced today is part of an investigation into corruption in international soccer being led by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, the FBI New York Field Office, and the IRS-CI Los Angeles Field Office. The prosecutors in Brooklyn are receiving considerable assistance from attorneys in various parts of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division in Washington, D.C., including the Office of International Affairs, the Organized Crime and Gang Section, the Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section, and the Fraud Section, as well as from INTERPOL Washington.

 

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Paul Tuchmann, Nadia Shihata, and Brian D. Morris of the Eastern District of New York are in charge of today’s prosecution.

 

The government’s investigation is ongoing.