Middleman Who Lied About Being an Agent of a Foreign Official Sentenced to 3 ½ Years in Prison for Role in Foreign Bribery Scheme Involving $800 Million International Real Estate Deal

Thursday, October 5, 2017

The middleman in a foreign bribery scheme who falsely held himself out as an agent of a foreign official was sentenced today to 42 months in prison for each count, to run concurrently, 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 of 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.

Malcom Harris, 53, of New York City, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos of the Southern District of New York.  Harris pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of money laundering on June 21.

According to admissions made in connection with Harris’s plea, Harris participated in a corrupt scheme to pay bribes to a foreign official in a country in the Middle East in order to facilitate the sale by South Korean construction company Keangnam Enterprises Co., Ltd., (Keangnam) of a commercial building known as Landmark 72 in Hanoi, Vietnam, to the Middle Eastern country’s sovereign wealth fund.  According to the indictment, the building sale was valued at $800 million, and purported bribe would total $2.5 million.

In connection with his guilty plea, Harris admitted that, from on or about March 2013 to on or about March 2015, he wrongfully obtained $500,000 from his co-defendants by falsely holding himself out as an agent of a foreign official in text messages and emails.  Harris admitted directing the $500,000 to be deposited into an account in the name of Muse Creative Consulting, but which Harris actually controlled.  Thereafter, Harris used the illegally obtained money to engage in transactions exceeding $10,000, he admitted.

Harris was charged in a December 2016 indictment along with codefendants Joo Hyun Bahn aka Dennis Bahn (Bahn) and Ban Ki Sang (Ban).  According to the indictment, during this time, Ban was a senior executive at Keangnam, and allegedly 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.

Bahn and Ban are awaiting trial.  The charges and allegations contained in an indictment are only accusations.  The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty 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.

Chairman of a Macau Real Estate Development Company Convicted on All Counts for Role in Scheme to Bribe United Nations Ambassadors to Build a Multi-Billion Dollar Conference Center

Friday, July 28, 2017

Yesterday, a federal jury convicted the chairman of a real estate development company for his role in a scheme to bribe United Nations ambassadors to obtain support to build a conference center in Macau that would host, among other events, the annual United Nations Global South-South Development Expo.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim of the Southern District of New York, Assistant Director in Charge William F. Sweeney, Jr. of the FBI’s New York Field Office and Chief Don Fort of Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) made the announcement.

After a four week trial, Ng Lap Seng, a/k/a “David Ng,” 69, of Macau, China, was convicted of two counts of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, one count of paying bribes and gratuities, one count of money laundering and two counts of conspiracy. No sentencing date has been set.

“The defendant’s corrupt activities were all the more egregious and shameful as he tried to hide his bribes as philanthropy,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Blanco. “Corruption is a disease that has a corrosive effect on the rule of law everywhere and harms good people throughout the world. The Department is steadfast in its mission to aggressively investigate and prosecute bribery in all its forms, and vigorously protect the rule of law.”

“In his unbridled pursuit of even greater personal fortune, billionaire Ng Lap Seng corrupted the highest levels of the United Nations,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Kim. “Through bribes and no show jobs, Ng turned leaders of the league of nations into his private band of profiteers. Ng’s journey from a Macau real estate mogul to convicted felon should serve as a cautionary tale to all tempted to follow his path. If you bring corruption to New York – whether to the State Capitol in Albany or to the halls of the U.N. General Assembly – your journey may very well end in a Manhattan federal courtroom, with a unanimous jury announcing your guilt.”

“Ng’s bribery scheme began at the intersection where business and intergovernmental matters overlap,” said Assistant Director in Charge Sweeney, Jr. He may have thought this was a good place to start, but it’s doubtful this was the ending he had in mind. This case is nothing more than an example of corruption in its purest form, and we’ve proven once again that no individual or organization is powerful enough to be immune from prosecution.”

“Today’s conviction is a result of untangling a global labyrinth of complex financial transactions used by Seng to facilitate bribes to foreign officials,” said Chief Fort. “IRS-CI has become a trusted leader in pursuit of those who use corruption as their business model to circumvent the law. CI is committed to maintaining fair competition, free of corrupt practices, through a dynamic synthesis of global teamwork and our robust financial investigative talents.”

According to the evidence presented at trial, Ng, the chairman of the Sun Kian Ip Group, conspired with and paid bribes to Francis Lorenzo, a former UN Ambassador from the Dominican Republic, and John W. Ashe, the late former Permanent Representative of Antigua and Barbuda to the UN and the 68th President of the UN General Assembly (“UNGA”). With the assistance of Jeff C. Yin, an accountant and co-conspirator who worked with Ng and others and previously pleaded guilty, Ng orchestrated a scheme with the principal objective of obtaining the formal support of the UN for a multi-billion dollar facility that Ng hoped to build in Macau using the Sun Kian Ip Group (the “Macau Conference Center”). Ng wanted the Macau Conference Center to serve as a location for meetings, discussions, forums, and other events associated with the UN. In particular, he wanted it to serve as the permanent home of the annual “Global South-South Development Expo,” which is run by the UN Office for South-South Cooperation, and is hosted in a different country or city every year.

The trial evidence further showed that Ng bribed Ambassador Ashe and Ambassador Lorenzo (together, the “Ambassadors”) in exchange for their agreement to use their official positions to advance Ng’s interest in obtaining formal UN support for the Macau Conference Center. As the evidence demonstrated at trial, Ng paid the Ambassadors in a variety of forms. For example, Ng appointed Ambassador Lorenzo as the President of South-South News, a New York-based organization — funded by Ng — which described itself as a media platform dedicated to advancing the implementation of the UN’s Millennium Development Goals, a set of philanthropic goals. Ng provided bribe payments to Ambassador Lorenzo through South-South News by transmitting payments from Macau to a company in the Dominican Republic affiliated with Ambassador Lorenzo’s brother (the “Dominican Company”). Through South-South News, Ng also made payments to Ambassador Ashe, including to Ambassador Ashe’s wife, who was paid in her capacity as a “consultant” to South-South News, and to an account that Ambassador Ashe had established, purportedly to raise money for his role as President of UNGA. Ng also provided bribes through cash and wire payments to the Ambassadors.

According to the trial evidence, one of the actions that the Ambassadors took in exchange for bribe payments, to advance Ng’s objectives, was to submit an official document to the then-UN Secretary-General in support of the Macau Conference Center (the “UN Document”). The UN Document claimed that there was a need to build the Macau Conference Center to support the UN’s global development goals. Ambassador Ashe, aided by Ambassador Lorenzo, initially submitted the UN Document to the UNGA in or about late February 2012. More than a year later, at Ng’s behest, the Ambassadors revised the UN Document to refer specifically to Ng’s company, the Sun Kian Ip Group, as a partner in the Macau Conference Center project. The UN Document requested that the Secretary-General circulate the UN Document “as a document of the sixty-sixth session of the General Assembly,” under a specific item of the official UNGA agenda. The Secretary-General followed this request, thereby making the UN Document an official part of the UNGA record.

Five other defendants have been charged in this matter. Co-conspirators Lorenzo, Yin and Heidi Hong Piao have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing. Shiwei Yan has pleaded and was sentenced to 20 months in prison. Co-defendant Ashe passed away in 2016 and the charges against him were dismissed.

This case was investigated by the FBI and IRS-CI. Trial Attorney David A. Last of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Daniel C. Richenthal, Janis M. Echenberg and Douglas S. Zolkind of the Southern District of New York are prosecuting the case.

The Criminal Division’s 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/fcpa.

Telecom Executive Pleads Guilty to FCPA Charge in Connection With Haitian Bribery Scheme

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The former general manager of a Miami-based telecommunications company pleaded guilty today for his role in a scheme to pay $3 million in bribes to various Haitian officials to secure a lucrative contract with Telecommunications D’Haiti (Haiti Teleco), the state-owned and state-controlled telecommunications company in Haiti.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting U.S. Attorney Benjamin G. Greenberg of the Southern District of Florida, Special Agent in Charge Kelly R. Jackson of Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation’s (IRS-CI) Miami Field Office made the announcement.

Amadeus Richers, 66, of Brazil, pleaded guilty in federal court in Miami to count one of a second superseding indictment charging him with conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).  According to admissions in the plea documents, beginning in 2001 and lasting until 2004, Richers and his co-conspirators paid roughly $3 million in bribes directly and indirectly to foreign officials employed by Haiti Teleco and to a foreign official in the executive branch of the Haitian government in order to secure a favorable contract and favorable treatment in connection with that contract from Haiti Teleco.  The co-conspirators funneled some of the money through third-party intermediaries and paid other money directly to officials or relatives of officials, Richers admitted.

Richers is the ninth defendant to have pled guilty or to have been convicted at trial in this case.  On April 27, 2009, Antonio Perez, a former controller at one of the Miami-based telecommunications companies, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA and money laundering.  On May 15, 2009, Juan Diaz, the president of J.D. Locator Services, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA and money laundering.  On Feb. 19, 2010, Jean Fourcand, the president and director of Fourcand Enterprises Inc., pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering for receiving and transmitting bribe monies in the scheme.  On March 12, 2010, Robert Antoine, a former director of international affairs for Haiti Teleco, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.  On Aug. 4, 2011, Joel Esquenazi and Carlos Rodriguez, who were the former president and vice-president, respectively, of one of the telecommunications companies, were convicted by a federal jury of one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA and wire fraud, seven counts of FCPA violations, one count of money laundering conspiracy and 12 counts of money laundering.  On Feb. 8, 2012, Patrick Joseph, a former executive director of Haiti Teleco, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.  On March 12, 2012, Jean Rene Duperval, a former director of international relations for Haiti Teleco, was convicted by a federal jury of two counts of conspiracy to commit money laundering and 19 counts of money laundering.

Richers was indicted on July 12, 2011, but remained a fugitive until his arrest and ultimately his extradition from Panama on February 23. Richers will be sentenced on September 20.

The Department of Justice is grateful to the government of Haiti for continuing to provide substantial assistance in gathering evidence during this investigation.  In particular, Haiti’s financial intelligence unit, the Unité Centrale de Renseignements Financiers (UCREF), the Bureau des Affaires Financières et Economiques (BAFE), which is a specialized component of the Haitian National Police, and the Ministry of Justice and Public Security provided significant cooperation and coordination in this ongoing investigation.

The Department of Justice also thanks Panama for its significant assistance in this matter.

IRS-CI is conducting the investigation.  Senior Litigation Counsel Nicola Mrazek and Trial Attorney Vanessa Snyder of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section are prosecuting the case.  The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs provided assistance.

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.

CCC: Recommended Blog: “Grand Jury Target”

Recommended Blog: “Grand Jury Target”

I’ve been following a blog for a while that I find informative and interesting: Grand Jury Target: Tracking Federal Prosecutions of Corporate Executives.  The blog is by Sara Kropf, a trial lawyer in Washington, D.C.  A March 8th post was titled:  “Why Are we Falling for the Department of Justice’s Sales Pitch?  The blog recounted Ms. Kropf’s experience at the recent White Collar Crime seminar, including the constant pitches by DOJ officials to rush in to confess.

This approach—to quickly rush to DOJ to win cooperation credit—seems to be the sad reality of current white collar practice when you represent large companies. (Don’t even get me started in the antitrust amnesty program and the problematic incentives that program creates.)

Check out the blog.  I think you’ll be well rewarded for your time.

Thanks for reading this one too!

Former Executive Pleads Guilty to Conspiring to Bribe Panamanian Officials

A former regional director of SAP International Inc. pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) by participating in a scheme to bribe Panamanian officials to secure the award of government technology contracts for SAP.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag of the Northern District of California, Special Agent in Charge George L. Piro of the FBI’s Miami Division and Acting Special Agent in Charge Thomas McMahon of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) made the announcement.

Vicente Eduardo Garcia, 65, of Miami, pleaded guilty to a one-count information charging him with conspiracy to violate the anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA.  Sentencing before Senior U.S. District Court Judge Charles R. Breyer of the Northern District of California is scheduled for Dec. 16, 2015.

According to plea documents, in late 2009, SAP sought a multi-million dollar contract to provide a Panamanian state agency with a technology upgrade package.  In connection with his guilty plea, Garcia admitted that, to secure the contract, he conspired with others, including advisors and consultants to SAP, to pay bribes to two Panamanian government officials, as well as to the agent of a third government official (with the understanding that at least a portion of the money would be transmitted to the third official).  According to Garcia’s admissions, the conspirators used sham contracts and false invoices to disguise the true nature of the bribes.  Garcia further admitted that he believed paying such bribes was necessary to secure both the initial contract and additional Panamanian government contracts.

Ultimately, SAP’s Panamanian channel partner secured the technology upgrade contract for $14.5 million, which included $2.1 million in SAP software licenses.  Soon thereafter, the Panamanian government awarded SAP’s channel partner additional contracts that included the provision of SAP products.

The investigation is being conducted by FBI and the IRS-CI.  The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs and the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Division of Enforcement, which separately announced civil charges against Garcia, provided assistance.  The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Aisling O’Shea of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam A. Reeves of the Northern District of California.

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

Former Owner and President of Pennsylvania Consulting Companies Charged with Foreign Bribery

The former owner and President of Chestnut Consulting Group Inc. and Chestnut Consulting Group Co. (generally referred to as the “Chestnut Group”) was indicted by a federal grand jury today for his alleged participation in a scheme to pay bribes to a foreign official in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and the Travel Act, and to launder proceeds of those crimes.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and Special Agent in Charge Edward J. Hanko of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division made the announcement.

“We are committed to combating foreign corruption, across the globe and across all industries, through enforcement actions and prosecutions of companies and the individuals who run those companies,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell.  “As alleged, in this case, the owner and chief executive of a Pennsylvania financial consulting firm secured hundreds of millions of dollars in business by bribing a European banking official.  He now faces an indictment for corruption in federal court.  Bribery of foreign officials undermines the public trust in government and fair competition in business.  The charges returned today reflect the clear message that we will root out corruption and prosecute individuals who violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.”

“We will aggressively investigate and prosecute individuals in our district who use corrupt means like bribery to influence foreign officials,” said U.S. Attorney Memeger.  “Our criminal statutes in this arena must be enforced to ensure fair dealing in a competitive global marketplace where foreign officials often hold significant decision-making authority.  The alleged conduct here was particularly reprehensible because it undermined the legitimacy of a process designed to support businesses for the citizens of developing nations.”

“This is a great example of the FBI’s ability to successfully coordinate with our international law enforcement partners to tackle corruption,” said Special Agent in Charge Hanko.  “Bribery – foreign or domestic – cripples the notion of fair competition in the marketplace.”

Dmitrij Harder, 42, of Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania, the former owner and president of the Chestnut Group, was charged with one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA and Travel Act, five counts of violating the FCPA, five counts of violating the Travel Act, one count of conspiracy to commit international money laundering, and two counts of money laundering.

According to allegations in the indictment, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) was a multilateral development bank headquartered in London, England, and was owned by over 60 sovereign nations.  Among other things, the EBRD provided financing for development projects in emerging economies, primarily in Eastern Europe.

According to allegations in the indictment, Harder and others paid bribes for the benefit of a senior official at the EBRD in exchange for influencing the official’s actions on applications for financing submitted by the Chestnut Group’s clients and for directing business to the Chestnut Group.  The EBRD ultimately approved applications for financing from two of the Chestnut Group’s corporate clients; the first resulted in the EBRD providing an $85 million investment and a 90 million Euro loan, while the second resulted in a $40 million investment and a $60 million convertible loan.  The Chestnut Group allegedly earned approximately $8 million in “success fees” as a result of the EBRD’s approval of these two applications.

The indictment alleges that Harder made five payments totaling more than $3.5 million to the sister of the EBRD official, in part as an effort to conceal the bribes.  These payments were allegedly made for purported consulting and other services provided to the Chestnut Group by the official’s sister, when in fact she provided no such services.  Harder also allegedly participated in creating fake documents to justify these payments.

The charges contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The case is being investigated by the FBI’s Philadelphia Division.  The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs also provided assistance.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Chief Leo R. Tsao of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Morgan of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Bio-Rad Laboratories Resolves Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Investigation and Agrees to Pay $14.35 Million Penalty

A California-based medical diagnostics and life sciences manufacturing and sales company, Bio-Rad Laboratories Inc. (Bio-Rad), has agreed to pay a $14.35 million penalty to resolve allegations that it violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) by falsifying its books and records and failing to implement adequate internal controls in connection with sales it made in Russia.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Special Agent in Charge David J. Johnson of the FBI’s San Francisco Field Office made the announcement.

“Public companies that cook their books and hide improper payments foster corruption,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell.  “The department pursues corruption from all angles, including the falsification of records and failure to implement adequate internal controls.   The department also gives credit to companies, like Bio-Rad, who self-disclose, cooperate and remediate their violations of the FCPA.”

“The FBI remains committed to identifying and investigating violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act,” said Special Agent in Charge Johnson.  “This action demonstrates the benefits of self-disclosure, cooperation, and subsequent remediation by companies.”

According to the company’s admissions in the agreement, Bio-Rad SNC, a Bio-Rad subsidiary located in France, retained and paid intermediary companies commissions of 15-30 percent purportedly in exchange for various services in connection with certain governmental sales in Russia.  The intermediary companies, however, did not perform these services.  Several high-level managers at Bio-Rad, responsible for overseeing Bio-Rad’s business in Russia, reviewed and approved the commission payments to the intermediary companies despite knowing that the intermediary companies were not performing such services.  These managers knowingly caused the payments to be falsely recorded on Bio-Rad SNC’s and, ultimately, Bio-Rad’s books.  Bio-Rad, through several of its managers, also failed to implement adequate controls, as well as adequate compliance systems, with regard to its Russian operations while knowing that the failure to implement such controls allowed the intermediary companies to be paid significantly above-market commissions for little or no services.

The department entered into a non-prosecution agreement with the company due, in large part, to Bio-Rad’s self-disclosure of the misconduct and full cooperation with the department’s investigation.  That cooperation included voluntarily making U.S. and foreign employees available for interviews, voluntarily producing documents from overseas, and summarizing the findings of its internal investigation.  In addition, Bio-Rad has engaged in significant remedial actions, including enhancing its anti-corruption policies globally, improving its internal controls and compliance functions, developing and implementing additional due diligence and contracting procedures for intermediaries, and conducting extensive anti-corruption training throughout the organization.

In addition to the monetary penalty, Bio-Rad agreed to continue to cooperate with the department, to report periodically to the department for a two-year period concerning Bio-Rad’s compliance efforts, and to continue to implement an enhanced compliance program and internal controls designed to prevent and detect FCPA violations.

In a related matter, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) today announced that it had entered into a cease and desist order against Bio-Rad in which the company agreed to pay $40.7 million in disgorgement and prejudgment interest in connection with the company’s sales in Russia, as well as in Thailand and Vietnam.

The department acknowledges and expresses its appreciation for the assistance provided by the SEC’s Division of Enforcement.

The case is being investigated by the FBI’s San Francisco Field Office.  The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Andrew Gentin of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.

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 .

 

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.

Former Executive of French Power Company Subsidiary Pleads Guilty in Connection with Foreign Bribery Scheme

 

A former senior executive of a subsidiary of Alstom SA, the French power and transportation company, 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, Acting U.S. Attorney Michael J. Gustafson of the District of Connecticut and Assistant Director in Charge Valerie Parlave of the FBI’s Washington Field Office made the announcement.
William Pomponi, a former vice president of regional sales at Alstom Power Inc., the Connecticut-based power subsidiary of Alstom, pleaded guilty today in federal court in New Haven, Connecticut, to a criminal information charging him with conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) in connection with the awarding of the Tarahan power project in Indonesia.    Pomponi was charged in a second superseding indictment on July 30, 2013.    Pomponi is the fourth defendant to plead guilty to charges stemming from this investigation.    Frederic Pierucci, the vice president of global boiler sales at Alstom, pleaded guilty on July 29, 2013, to one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA and one count of violating the FCPA; and, David Rothschild, a former vice president of regional sales at Alstom Power Inc., pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate the FCPA on Nov. 2, 2012.  Marubeni Corporation, Alstom’s consortium partner on the Tarahan project, pleaded guilty on March 19, 2014, to one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA and seven counts of violating the FCPA, and was sentenced to pay a criminal fine of $88 million.    FCPA and money laundering charges remain pending against Lawrence Hoskins, the former senior vice president for the Asia region for Alstom, and trial is scheduled for June 2, 2015.
“Three Alstom corporate executives and Marubeni, a major Japanese corporation, have now pleaded guilty to a seven-year scheme to pay bribes to Indonesian officials to secure a $118 million power contract,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell.  “The Criminal Division of the Department of Justice will follow evidence of corruption wherever it leads, including into corporate boardrooms and corner offices.  As this case demonstrates, we will hold both companies and their executives responsible for criminal conduct.”
According to the court filings, the defendants, together with others, paid bribes to officials in Indonesia, including a member of the Indonesian Parliament and high-ranking members of Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN), the state-owned and state-controlled electricity company in Indonesia, in exchange for assistance in securing a $118 million contract, known as the Tarahan project, to provide power-related services for the citizens of Indonesia from facilities in Tarahan.    To conceal the bribes, the defendants retained two consultants purportedly to provide legitimate consulting services on behalf of Alstom and Marubeni in connection with the Tarahan project.    In reality, the primary purpose for hiring the consultants was to use the consultants to pay bribes to Indonesian officials.
The first consultant retained by the defendants allegedly received hundreds of thousands of dollars in his Maryland bank account to be used to bribe the member of Parliament.    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 Hoskins, Pomponi, 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, in the fall of 2003, Hoskins, Pomponi, Pierucci and others determined that the first consultant was not effectively bribing key officials at PLN.    One email between Alstom employees described PLN officials’ “concern that if we have won the job, whether their rewards will still be satisfactory or this agent only give them pocket money and disappear.” In another email, an employee at Alstom’s subsidiary in Indonesia sent an email to Hoskins asserting that the first consultant “has no grip on the PLN Tender team at all” and “is more or less similar to [a] cashier which I feel we pay too much.”
As a result, the co-conspirators retained a second consultant to bribe PLN officials, according to the court documents.    The co-conspirators deviated from Alstom’s 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 Alstom’s subsidiary in Indonesia sent an email to Hoskins, Pomponi, 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 defendants and their co-conspirators were successful in securing the Tarahan project and subsequently made payments to the consultants for the purpose of bribing the Indonesian officials.
An indictment is merely an accusation, and defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
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, Connecticut, Resident Agency of the FBI.    Significant assistance was provided by the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs, and the department has also received substantial assistance from its law enforcement counterparts in Indonesia, Switzerland and Singapore and greatly appreciates their cooperation.    The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Chief Daniel S. Kahn of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney David E. Novick of the District of Connecticut.