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A Wide Net

The seemingly minor case involving Telecommunications D’Haiti (“Haiti Teleco”) keeps on giving.

The DOJ recently announced (here) that Jean Fourcand pleaded guilty “to engaging in monetary transactions involving property derived from a scheme to bribe former Haitian government officials.” According to the criminal information (here) Fourcand “received funds ($18,500) originating from U.S. international telecommunications companies for the benefit of Robert Antoine from in or around November 2001, until in or around August 2002.” The information charges that the “funds Fourcand received were bribery payments” to Antoine (an alleged “foreign official” in the eyes of the DOJ because he worked for state-owned Haiti Teleco) and that the “funds were later used by Fourcand in a real estate transaction that benefited Antoine.”

The Fourcand plea is the most recent news in a case in which the DOJ has cast a wide net.

In May 2009, the DOJ announced (here) that Juan Diaz and Antonio Perez pleaded guilty to a one-count criminal information charging conspiracy to violate the FCPA’s antibribery provisions and money laundering laws for their roles in the same improper payment scheme involving the same Haiti Teleco employees. According to the Diaz criminal information (here), Diaz served as an intermediary for various companies in their business dealings with Haiti Teleco and knowingly conspired and agreed with others to make improper payments to the Haiti Teleco officials. According to the Perez criminal information (here), Perez, a controller for one of the companies seeking business with Haiti Teleco, also knowingly conspired and agreed with others to make improper payments to the Haiti Teleco officials.

In December 2009, the DOJ announced (here) the unsealing of an indictment (here) against Joel Esquenazi, Carlos Rodriguez and Marguerite Grandison charging (among other things) conspiracy to violate the FCPA and substantive FCPA violations for their roles in the same scheme to bribe the same Haiti Teleco employees. As noted in a prior post on this case (here), Esquenazi and Rodriguez are former executives of a privately owned telecommunications company and Grandison served as an intermediary for various companies in their business dealings with Haiti Teleco.

As also noted in the prior post, the same indictment also accomplished what is believed to be an “FCPA” first in that the alleged “foreign officials” Robert Antoine and Jean Rene Duperval were also charged. Because the FCPA only covers “bribe-payers” not “bribe-takers” Antoine and Duperval were charged with money laundering conspiracy and/or substantive money laundering.

The DOJ has clearly cast a wide net in this case and eight individuals, including company employees, intermediaries, and “foreign officials,” have been caught in the net.

Another point to consider is that this case involves a whole lot of fishing based on an untested legal theory that has never been accepted by a court – that being employees of state-owned or state-controlled enterprises are “foreign officials” under the FCPA. For numerous prior posts on this issue (see here and here and here).

If you are new to the FCPA you might be wondering why the DOJ comes out with guns-a-blazing in a case like this, yet in a case that involves seemingly clear-cut instances of corporate bribery and corruption (per the government’s own evidence) the DOJ agrees to resolve such a case without FCPA antibribery charges. See here.

Well, don’t feel bad, even those of us who have followed the FCPA for years wonder the same thing from time to time.

BAE

In a joint enforcement action that is sure to generate much discussion and controversy, the U.K. Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and the U.S. DOJ announced today resolution of an enforcement action against BAE Systems.

The SFO announced (here) that it has “reached an agreement with BAE systems that the company will plead guilty” to the offense of “failing to keep reasonably accurate accounting records in relation to its activities in Tanzania.”

BAE’s press release (here) notes that “[i]n connection with the sale of a radar system by the Company to Tanzania in 1999, the Company made commission payments to a marketing adviser and failed to accurately record such payments in its accounting records. The Company failed to scrutinise these records adequately to ensure that they were reasonably accurate and permitted them to remain uncorrected. The Company very much regrets and accepts full responsibility for these past shortcomings.”

The SFO and company release note that BAE will pay a £30 million penalty “comprising a fine to be determined by the Court with the balance paid as a charitable payment for the benefit of Tanzania.”

In a strange turn of events, the SFO also announced (here) that it has withdrawn charges filed last week (see here) against a former agent charged with “conspiracy to corrupt” and for “conspiring with others to give or agree to give corrupt payments […] to unknown officials and other agents of certain Eastern and Central European governments, including the Czech Republic, Hungary and Austria as inducements to secure, or as rewards for having secured, contracts from those governments for the supply of goods to them, namely SAAB/Gripen fighter jets, by BAE Systems Plc.”

The SFO release notes that “[t]his decision brings to an end the SFO’s investigations into BAE’s defence contracts.”

So what happened to the charges and allegations involving certain Eastern and Central European governments, including the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Austria?

Good question.

Much like the wave of magician’s wand, they have simply disappeared.

Closer to home, the DOJ announced that it:

“filed a criminal charge (here) in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against BAE Systems plc charging that the multinational defense contractor conspired to impede the lawful functions of the Departments of Defense and State, made false statements to the Departments of Defense and Justice about establishing an effective anti-corruption compliance program to ensure conformance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and paid hundreds of millions of dollars in undisclosed commission payments in violation of U.S. export control laws.”

The DOJ and BAE release note that the company “will pay a fine of $400 million and make additional commitments concerning its ongoing compliance.”

According to the DOJ release (which is available through the DOJ Office of Public Affairs, but not yet publicly posted on DOJ’s website) “BAE Systems is charged with intentionally failing to put appropriate, anti-bribery preventative measures in place, contrary to the representations it made to the United States government, and then making hundreds of millions of dollars in payments to third parties, while knowing of a high probability that money would be passed on to foreign government decision makers to favor BAE in the award of defense contracts. BAE Systems allegedly failed to disclose these payments to the State Department, as it was required to do so under U.S. laws and regulations in order to get necessary export licenses.”

The bold language above would expose most companies to an FCPA enforcement action, but BAE is no ordinary company. It is a major defense contractor on both sides of the Atlantic (as noted in the criminal information “in 2008, BAE was the largest defense contractor in Europe and the fifth largest in the U.S. as measured by sales”).

You can bet that these charges were the subject of much negotiation so as to not upset current or future government contracts as well as foreign policy issues and concerns.

The BAE charges and thus similar to those against Siemens in December 2008. In that case, despite the company engaging in bribery “unprecedented in scale and geographic scope” and despite the company being one in which “bribery was nothing less than standard operating procedure” (both direct DOJ quotes), the company avoided FCPA antibribery charges. (See here for prior posts about Siemens).

These two cases seriously raise the issue of whether certain companies in certain industries are simply “above” the FCPA.

Can the enforcement agencies on both sides of the Atlantic say with a straight face that this case was merely about improper record keeping, making false statements to the government, and export licenses?

Transparency, corporate accountability, and indeed a criminal justice system all suffered setbacks today.

The FCPA suffered a black-eye as well and one would be right to ask, “what the heck is going on here!”

Africa Sting – “Individual 1” Identified … and Charged … In a Different Case

“Individual 1” – a key player in each of the Africa Sting indictments (see here) has been identified by the New York Times (see here) as Richard T. Bistrong, a former employee of Armor Holdings. (Armor Holdings, a former publicly-traded company, is currently a subsidiary of BAE Systems).

In an ironic twist, Bistrong was charged today in a criminal information (see here) with conspiracy – not for his role in the Africa Sting case – but a wholly separate bribe scheme.

The information charges Bistrong with conspiracy to violate the FCPA’s antibribery provisions, books and records provisions, and the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and related Export Administration Regulations.

The conspiracy is broad in scope and includes charges that Bistrong conspired with others: (i) to obtain for his employer, United Nations body armor contracts (valued at $6 million) by causing his employer to pay $200,000 in commissions to an agent while knowing that the agent would pass along a portion of that money to a United Nations procurement officer (a “foreign official” per the FCPA) to cause the officer to award the contracts; (ii) to obtain for his employer, a $2.4 million pepper spray contract with the National Police Services Agency of the Netherlands by paying a Dutch agent approximately $15,000 while knowing that the agent would pass along some of that money to a procurement officer with the Police Services Agency to influence the contract; (iii) to obtain for his employer (although it was never obtained), a contract to sell fingerprint ink pads to the Independent National Elections Commission of Nigeria by making kickback payments to a commission official indirectly through an intermediary company.

As the New York times notes, a “criminal information is typically filed when the defendant has waived indictment and is negotiating a plea agreement.”

The New York Times story concludes by describing the abrupt end to today’s court hearing.

Africa Sting – The Charges

Set forth below is a summary of the 16 indictments announced yesterday charging 22 individuals in connection with the “Africa Sting.”

The Africa Sting case charges individuals across a wide business spectrum.

It involves individuals employed by large companies and small companies; private companies and publicly-traded companies. It involves Chief Executive Officers, Sales Managers, and even a General Counsel. It involves U.S. citizens, U.K. citizens, an Israeli citizen, and a pair of siblings. It involves agents and consultants, and of course, undercover FBI agents posing as representatives of an imaginary Minister of Defense of an African country.

At present, this case only involves individuals.

However, as indicated by Assistant Attorney General Breuer in yesterday’s DOJ release (here) the investigation is “ongoing” and you can bet that many of the companies which employ these individuals are “lawyering up” as past FCPA enforcement actions demonstrate the corporate enforcement actions or investigations often, but not always, precede or follow individual enforcement actions.

As to any potential corporate enforcement action, the websites of several of the companies employing the indicted individuals make specific reference to the company being a U.S. General Services Administration vendor. “Under guidelines issued by the Office of Management and Budget, a person or firm found in violation of the FCPA may be barred from doing business with the Federal government.” (see here).

However, this sanction (to my knowledge) has never been used against an FCPA violator – not even Siemens (see here). Thus, should corporate enforcement actions ensue, this will be an interesting issue to follow.

Given that one of the individuals indicted is employed by a public-company issuer, the SEC may also be interested in that company from, at the very least, an FCPA books and records and internal control perspective.

Given the number of individuals indicted, and the motivations for pleading under the Sentencing Guidelines, it would seem inevitable that one or more individuals will soon “flip” and cooperate with the government thereby potentially complicating the defenses of the remaining individuals.

All charges have been filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and assigned to Judge Richard J. Leon (see here).

As evident below, each of the indictments generally follow the same template, allege the core conduct, and charge the same offenses, including conspiracy to violate the FCPA and substantive FCPA violations.

At present, the indictments are only allegations and the individuals are presumed innocent. There is, of course, a very human event in this case and the lives of the indicted individuals (and countless more when you include family and friends) were turned upside down this week.

Stay tuned for a future post as to the “questions” raised by these indictments.

Daniel Alvirez and Lee Allen Tolleson

Alvirez (see here for his background) is described in the indictment as “the President of Company A, an Arkansas company based in Bull Shoals, Arkansas, that manufactured and sold law enforcement and military equipment.”

The company is ALS Technologies, Inc. (see here for its background and here for the company’s press releases on this issue).

According to the indictment, Tolleson “was the Director of Acquisitions and Logistics.”

According to the indictment, between approximately May 2009 – December 2009, Alvirez and Tolleson “would participate in meetings and have discussions” in which Individual 1 (a “business associate of Alvirez and Tolleson” (as well as most the other indicted individuals) and an “former Vice President of International Sales for a company that manufactured and supplied law enforcement and military equipment to law enforcement and military customers around the world”) “said that a friend of his, who was a self-employed sales agent” was tasked by the Minister of Defense of an African country “with obtaining various defense articles for outfitting” the country’s presidential guard.

According to the indictment, “in reality, the self-employed sales agent” was an undercover FBI special agent “posing as a representative of the Minister of Defense” of the African country.

According to the indictment, an object of the scheme was for Alvirez and Tolleson to obtain and attempt to obtain business for their company and themselves by making corrupt payments to the “sales agent” (the undercover FBI agent) who was “consulting” on a sale by the company to the Minister of Defense.

Pursuant to this arrangement, the indictment alleges that Aliverz and Tolleson would agree to pay the “sales agent” “a 20% ‘commission’ in connection with two contract to sell grenades and grenade launchers to the Minister of Defense” “knowing that half of the ‘commission’ was intended to be paid as a bribe to the Minister of Defense” and “half was intended to be split between” Individual 1 and the “sales agent” “as a fee for their corrupt services.”

According to the indictment, money for these payments would be generated through inflating the true price of the grenades and grenade launchers by 20%.

As part of the scheme, the indictment alleges that Alvirez and Tolleson would pay this “commission” into the “sales agent” U.S. bank account “knowing that half of the commission was intended to be paid outside of the United States as a bribe to the Minister of Defense.”

According to the indictment, the business deal was worth approximately $15 million and “would involve several suppliers.” The indictment alleges that on or about May 13, 2009, Alvirez and Tolleson agreed to proceed with the deal per the above-described arrangements and that Alvirez and Tolleson then proceeded to inflate the price quotations, wire the commission, and otherwise take action in furtherance of the deal.

The indictment alleges that on or about October 5, 2009, Alvirez and Tolleson were told by another FBI special agent “posing as a procurement officer” for the African country’s Minister of Defense and “who purportedly reported directly to the Minister of Defense” (the Second FBI Agent) that the “Minister of Defense was pleased with the grenade launchers” sent and the “commission the Minister of Defense had received.” The FBI special agent then allegedly told Alvirez and Tolleson “that the Minister of Defense had given his approval to proceed” with the second phase of the deal. According to the indictment, Alvirez and Tolleson then executed two copies “of the corrupt purchase agreement.”

Based on this core conduct, the indictment charges Alvirez and Tolleson with, among other things, conspiracy to violate the FCPA and two substantive FCPA violations.

Helmie Ashiblie

Ashiblie is described in the indictment as the “Vice President and Founder of Company A, a company that was based in Woodbridge, Virginia, and was in the business of supplying tactical bags and other security-related articles for law enforcement agencies and governments worldwide.”

That company (see here) is i-Shot, Inc.

The allegations against Ashiblie are substantively similar to the above allegations against Alvirez and Tolleson, but involved two contracts to sell “tactical bags”. The indictment alleges that Ashiblie agreed to proceed with the deal and that he then proceeded between August – November 2009 to inflate the price quotations, wire the commission, and otherwise take action in furtherance of the deal.

The indictment also alleges that on or about October 5, 2009, Ashiblie was also told by the Second FBI Agent that the “Minister of Defense was pleased with the tactical bags” sent and the “commission the Minister of Defense had received.” The FBI agent then allegedly told Ashiblie “that the Minister of Defense had given his approval to proceed” with the second phase of the deal. According to the indictment, Ashiblie then executed an additional purchase agreement and sent “thirteen tactical bags for the purpose of having the tactical bags forwarded” to the African country.

Based on this core conduct, the indictment charges Ashiblie with, among other things, conspiracy to violate the FCPA and four substantive FCPA violations.

Ofer Paz

Paz is described in the indictment as a citizen of Israel and the “President and Chief Executive Officer of Company A, an Israel-based company that acts as a sales agent for companies in the law enforcement and military products industries.”

That company is M. Paz Logistics Ltd. (see here).

The allegations against Paz are substantively similar, but involved two contracts to sell “explosives detection kits.” The indictment alleges that Paz agreed to proceed with the deal and that he then proceeded between May – September 2009 to inflate the price quotations, wire the commission, and otherwise take action in furtherance of the deal.

The indictment also alleges that on or about October 5, 2009, Paz was also told by the Second FBI Agent that the “Minister of Defense was pleased with the explosives detection kits” sent and the “commission the Minister of Defense had received.” The FBI agent then allegedly told Paz “that the Minister of Defense had given his approval to proceed” with the second phase of the deal. According to the indictment, Paz then executed the “corrupt purchase agreement.”

Based on this core conduct, the indictment charges Paz with, among other things, conspiracy to violate the FCPA and three substantive FCPA violations.

Andrew Bigelow

Bigelow is described in the indictment as the “Managing Partner and Director of Government Programs for Company A, a company that was based in Sarasota, Florida, and was in the business of selling machine guns, grenade launchers, and other small arms and accessories.”

That company has been identified in media reports as The Gunsearch.com LLC (see here).

The allegations against Bigelow are substantively similar, but involved two contracts to sell “M4 carbine rifles.” The indictment alleges that Bigelow agreed to proceed with the deal and that he then proceeded between May – September 2009 to inflate the price quotations, wire the commission, and otherwise take action in furterance of the deal.

The indictment also alleges that on or about October 5, 2009, Bigelow was also told by the Second FBI Agent that the “Minister of Defense was pleased with the M4 rifles” sent and the “commission the Minister of Defense had received.” The FBI agent then allegedly told Bigelow “that the Minister of Defense had given his approval to proceed” with the second phase of the deal. According to the indictment, Bigelow then executed the “corrupt purchase agreement.”

Based on this core conduct, the indictment charges Bigelow with, among other things, conspiracy to violate the FCPA and two substantive FCPA violations.

R. Patrick Caldwell and Stephen Gerard Giordanella

Caldwell is described in the indictment as the former “Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Company A, a Florida corporation headquartered in Sunrise, Florida, that designed and manufactured concealable and tactical body armor.” According to the indictment, in September 2009, “Caldwell was named Chief Executive Officer of Company A.”

That company is Protective Products of America, Inc. (see here) and (here) for Caldwell’s profile. Of note, Caldwell formerly “served as Deputy Assistant Director, Office of Protective Operations, U.S. Secret Service.”

According to the indictment, Giordanella “was the Chief Executive” of Protective Products “until his resignation on or about March 18, 2009” and from then until at least December 2, 2009 he was a “consultant” for the company.

The allegations against Caldwell and Giordanella are substantively similar, but involved two contracts to sell “body armor plates” The indictment alleges that Caldwell and Giordanella agreed to proceed with the deal and that they then proceeded between May – September 2009 to inflate the price quotations, wire the commission, and otherwise take action in furterance of the deal.

The indictment also alleges that on or about October 5, 2009, Caldwell was also told by the Second FBI Agent that the “Minister of Defense was pleased with the body armor plates” sent and the “commission the Minister of Defense had received.” The FBI agent then allegedly told Caldwell “that the Minister of Defense had given his approval to proceed” with the second phase of the deal. According to the indictment, Caldwell then executed the “corrupt purchase agreement.”

Based on this core conduct, the indictment charges Caldwell and Giordanella with, among other things, conspiracy to violate the FCPA. Caldwell is additionally charged with two substantive FCPA violations.

Haim Geri

Geri is described in the indictment as “the President of Company A, a company based in North Miami Beach, Florida, that serves as a sales agent for companies in the law enforcement and military products industries.”

That company appears to be M.G.S. International Consulting, Inc.

The allegations against Geri are substantively similar, but involved two contracts to sell “the Corner Shot – a special purpose gun accessory that can be used to observe and shoot targets around a corner.” The indictment alleges that Geri agreed to proceed with the deal and that he then proceeded between May – June 2009 to inflate the price quotations, wire the commission, and otherwise take action in furterance of the deal.

The indictment also alleges that on or about October 5, 2009, Geri was also told by the Second FBI Agent that the “Minister of Defense was pleased with the Corner Shot units” sent and the “commission the Minister of Defense had received.” The FBI agent then allegedly told Geri “that the Minister of Defense had given his approval to proceed” with the second phase of the deal. According to the indictment, Geri then executed the “corrupt purchase agreement.”

Based on this core conduct, the indictment charges Geri with, among other things, conspiracy to violate the FCPA and two substantive FCPA violations.

Saul Mishkin

Mishkin is described in the indictment as “the owner and Chief Executive Officer of Company A, a Florida company headquartered in Aventura, Florida, that sold law enforcement and military equipment.”

That company appears to be International Security and Defence Systems (see here).

The allegations against Mishkin are substantively similar, but involved two contracts to sell “riot control suits.” The indictment alleges that Mishkin agreed to proceed with the deal and that he then proceeded between May – September 2009 to inflate the price quotations, wire the commission, and otherwise take action in furterance of the deal.

The indictment also alleges that on or about October 5, 2009, Mishkin was also told by the Second FBI Agent that the “Minister of Defense was pleased with the riot control suits” sent and the “commission the Minister of Defense had received.” The FBI agent then allegedly told Mishkin “that the Minister of Defense had given his approval to proceed” with the second phase of the deal. According to the indictment, Mishkin then executed the “corrupt purchase agreement.”

The Mishkin indictment contains the additional allegation that he was “advised by his attorney that the deal could violate the laws of the United States.” The indictment further alleges that Mishkin then tried to sell the riot control suits indirectly through Individual 1’s company and also contains the allegation that Mishkin also tried to sell “Ready to Eat Meal kits” to Individual 1 pursuant to the same original deal structure even though Mishkin “previously had been advised by his attorney that such a deal could violate the laws of the United States.”

Based on this core conduct, the indictment charges Mishkin with, among other things, conspiracy to violate the FCPA and one substantive FCPA violations.

John Mushriqui and Jeana Mushriqui

John Mushriqui is described in the indictment as “the owner and Director of International Development for Company A, a Pennsylvania company [located in Upper Darby] that was in the business of manufacturing and exporting bulletproof vests and other law enforcement and military equipment.”

Jeana Mushriqui is described as “the General Counsel and United States manager of Company A and the sister of John Mushriqui.”

That company is Mushriqui Consulting LLC (see here).

The allegations against the Mushriquis are substantively similar, but involved two contracts to sell “bulletproof vests.” The indictment alleges that Mushriquis agreed to proceed with the deal and that they then proceeded between May – September 2009 to inflate the price quotations, wire the commission, and otherwise take action in furterance of the deal.

The indictment also alleges that on or about October 5, 2009, the Mushriquis were also told by the Second FBI Agent that the “Minister of Defense was pleased with bulletproof vests” sent and the “commission the Minister of Defense had received.” The FBI agent then allegedly told the Mushriquis “that the Minister of Defense had given his approval to proceed” with the second phase of the deal. According to the indictment, the Mushriquis then executed the “corrupt purchase agreement.”

Based on this core conduct, the indictment charges the Mushriquis with, among other things, conspiracy to violate the FCPA and five substantive FCPA violations.

Jonathan Spiller

Spiller is described in the indictment as the “owner and President of Company A, a Florida company that was in the business of providing consulting services for companies in the law enforcement and military equipment industries.” According to the indictment, “Spiller was also the owner and manager of Company B, a Florida company that was in the business of marketing and selling law enforcement and military equipment. Company A and B were both located in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.”

The allegations against Spiller are substantively similar, but involved contracts to sell “rifle-mounted cameras and tactical vehicles.” The indictment alleges that Spiller agreed to proceed with the deal and that he then proceeded between May – September 2009 to inflate the price quotations, wire the commission, and otherwise take action in furterance of the deal.

The indictment also alleges that on or about October 5, 2009, Spiller was also told by the Second FBI Agent that the “Minister of Defense was pleased” with the equipment sent and the “commission the Minister of Defense had received.” The FBI agent then allegedly told Spiller “that the Minister of Defense had given his approval to proceed” with the second phase of the deal. According to the indictment, Spiller then executed the “corrupt purchase agreement.”

Based on this core conduct, the indictment charges Spiller with, among other things, conspiracy to violate the FCPA and two substantive FCPA violations.

John Benson Wier III

Wier is described in the indictment as the “President of Company A, a Florida company headquartered in St. Petersburg, Florida, that sold tactical and ballistic equipment.”

That company is SRT Supply Inc. (see here).

The allegations against Wier are substantively similar, but involved two contracts to sell “laser grips, which are laser sights for handguns.” The indictment alleges that Wier agreed to proceed with the deal and that he then proceeded between May – June 2009 to inflate the price quotations, wire the commission, and otherwise take action in furterance of the deal.

The indictment also alleges that on or about October 5, 2009, Wier was also told by the Second FBI Agent that the “Minister of Defense was pleased with the laser grips” sent and the “commission the Minister of Defense had received.” The FBI agent then allegedly told Wier “that the Minister of Defense had given his approval to proceed” with the second phase of the deal. According to the indictment, Wier then executed the “corrupt purchase agreement.”

Based on this core conduct, the indictment charges the Wier with, among other things, conspiracy to violate the FCPA and two substantive FCPA violations.

Amaro Goncalves

Goncalves is described in the indictment as “the Vice President of Sales for Company A, a United States company headquartered in Springfield, Massachusetts. Company A was a world-wide leader in the design and manufacture of firearms, firearm safety/security products, rifles, firearms systems, and accessories. The shares of Company A were publicly traded on the NASDAQ stock exchange.”

That company is Smith and Wesson Holding Corporation (see here and here for its press release).

The allegations against Goncalves are substantively similar, but involved two contracts to sell “pistols.” The indictment alleges that Goncalves agreed to proceed with the deal and that he then proceeded between May – September 2009 to inflate the price quotations, wire the commission, and otherwise take action in furterance of the deal.

The indictment also alleges that on or about October 6, 2009, Goncalves was also told by the Second FBI Agent that the “Minister of Defense was pleased with the pistols” sent and the “commission the Minister of Defense had received.” The FBI special agent then allegedly told Goncalves “that the Minister of Defense had given his approval to proceed” with the second phase of the deal. According to the indictment, Goncalves then executed the “corrupt purchase agreement.”

Based on this core conduct, the indictment charges Goncalves with, among other things, conspiracy to violate the FCPA and three substantive FCPA violations.

Pankesh Patel

Patel is described in the indictment as a United Kingdom citizen and the “Managing Director of Company A, a United Kingdom company that acts as a sales agent for companies in the law enforcement and military products industries.”

The allegations against Patel are substantively similar, but involved two contracts to sell “uniforms.” The indictment alleges that Patel agreed to proceed with the deal and that he then proceeded between May – September 2009 to inflate the price quotations, wire the commission, and otherwise take action in furterance of the deal.

The indictment also alleges that on or about October 5, 2009, Goncalves was also told by the Second FBI Agent that the “Minister of Defense was pleased with the uniforms” sent and the “commission the Minister of Defense had received.” The FBI agent then allegedly told Patel “that the Minister of Defense had given his approval to proceed” with the second phase of the deal. According to the indictment, Patel then executed the “corrupt purchase agreement.”

Based on this core conduct, the indictment charges Patel with, among other things, conspiracy to violate the FCPA and two substantive FCPA violations.

John Gregory Godsey and Mark Frederick Morales

Godsey is described in the indictment as “the owner of Company A, a Georgia company based in Decatur, Georgia, that was in the business of selling ammunition and other law enforcement and military equipment.” Morales is described as “a busines associate of Godsey” who “worked with him on deals involving Company A.”

The allegations against Godsey and Morales are substantively similar, but involved two contracts to sell “ammunition.” The indictment alleges that Godsey and Morales agreed to proceed with the deal and that they then proceeded between May – September 2009 to inflate the price quotations, wire the commission, and otherwise take action in furterance of the deal.

The indictment also alleges that on or about October 5, 2009, Godsey and Morales were also told by the Second FBI Agent that the “Minister of Defense was pleased with the ammunition” sent and the “commission the Minister of Defense had received.” The FBI agent then allegedly told Godsey and Morales “that the Minister of Defense had given his approval to proceed” with the second phase of the deal. According to the indictment, Godsey then executed the “corrupt purchase agreement.”

Based on this core conduct, the indictment charges Godsey and Morales with, among other things, conspiracy to violate the FCPA and two substantive FCPA violations.

David Painter and Lee Wares

Painter is described in the indictment as a United Kingdom citizen and “the Chairman of Subsidiary A, a company based in the United Kingdom that was in the business of marketing armored vehicles.” Wares is also described as a United Kingdom citizen and the “Director of Subsidiary A.”

According to the indictment, “the parent company of Subsidiary A” is a company based in Cincinnati, Ohio that “produces security products.”

The allegations against Painter and Ware are substantively similar, but involved two contracts to sell “night vision goggles (NVGs) and armored vehicles.” The indictment alleges that Painter and Ware agreed to proceed with the deal and that they then proceeded between May – September 2009 to inflate the price quotations, wire the commission, and otherwise take action in furterance of the deal.

The indictment also alleges that on or about October 5, 2009, Painter and Ware were also told by the Second FBI Agent that the “Minister of Defense was pleased with the NVGs” sent and the “commission the Minister of Defense had received.” The FBI agent then allegedly told Painter and Ware “that the Minister of Defense had given his approval to proceed” with the second phase of the deal. According to the indictment, Painter and Ware then executed the “corrupt purchase agreement.”

Based on this core conduct, the indictment charges Painter and Ware with, among other things, conspiracy to violate the FCPA and three substantive FCPA violations.

Israel Weisler and Michael Sacks

Weisler is described in the indictment as an “owner and Chief Executive Officer of Company A, a Kentucky company that was in the business of designing, manufacturing, and selling armor products, including body armor. Company A’s business was located in Stearns, Kentucky.” Sacks, a citizen of the United Kingdom, is described as a “co-owner and co-Chief Executive Officer of Company A.”

That company is U.S. Cavalry Inc. (see here). Of note, according to the company’s website, is that the company “set upon a quest to earn a General Services Administration Contract to ease the procurement process for our customers at GSA-authorized federal, military and state agencies. The GSA Contract allows these customers to ensure they pay a fair, predetermined price for the equipment they need.”

The allegations against Weisler and Sacks are substantively similar, but involved two contracts to sell “body armor.” The indictment alleges that Weisler and Sacks agreed to proceed with the deal and that they then proceeded between May – June 2009 to inflate the price quotations, wire the commission, and otherwise take action in furterance of the deal.

The indictment also alleges that on or about October 5, 2009, Weisler and Sacks were also told by the Second FBI Agent that the “Minister of Defense was pleased with the body armor” sent and the “commission the Minister of Defense had received.” The FBI agent then allegedly told Weisler and Sacks “that the Minister of Defense had given his approval to proceed” with the second phase of the deal. According to the indictment, Weisler and Sacks then executed the “corrupt purchase agreement.”

Based on this core conduct, the indictment charges Weisler and Sacks with, among other things, conspiracy to violate the FCPA and four substantive FCPA violations.

Yochanan Cohen

Cohen is described in the indictment as the “Chief Executive Officer of Company A, a company based in San Francisco, California, that was in the business of manufacturing security equipment, including body armor and hard armor ballistic plates.”

That company is Highcom Security Inc. (see here). The company’s website indicates that it is a certified General Services Administrator vendor.

The allegations against Cohen are substantively similar, but involved two contracts to sell “Level IV ballistic plates, which is a type of body armor.” The indictment alleges that Cohen agreed to proceed with the deal and that he then proceeded between May – August 2009 to inflate the price quotations, wire the commission, and otherwise take action in furterance of the deal.

The indictment also alleges that on or about October 5, 2009, Cohen was also told by the Second FBI Agent that the “Minister of Defense was pleased with the ballistic plates” sent and the “commission the Minister of Defense had received.” The FBI special agent then allegedly told Cohen “that the Minister of Defense had given his approval to proceed” with the second phase of the deal. According to the indictment, Cohen then executed the “corrupt purchase agreement.”

Based on this core conduct, the indictment charges Cohen with, among other things, conspiracy to violate the FCPA and three substantive FCPA violations.

Historically Massive Sting Operation

Back in November, Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, in a speech (see here) before an FCPA audience said that “[a]lthough many of these cases come to us through voluntary disclosures, which we certainly encourage and will appropriately reward, I want to be clear: the majority of our cases do not come from voluntary disclosures. They are the result of pro-active investigations ….”

Today, the DOJ announced (here) the indictment of 22 (no that is not a typo) “executives and employees of companies in the military and law enforcement products industry” for engaging in a scheme to bribe foreign officials to obtain and retain business.

Per the DOJ release, the 16 unsealed indictments “represent the largest single investigation and prosecution against individuals in the history of DOJ’s enforcement of the FCPA.”

Just how pro-active was this investigation?

According to the release, the “indictments allege that the defendants engaged in a scheme to pay bribes to the minister of defense for a country in Africa.”

However, there was a catch.

There was “no actual involvement from any minister of defense.”

Rather, the defendants “allegedly agreed to pay a 20 percent ‘commission’ to a sales agent who the defendants believed represented the minister of defense for a country in Africa in order to win a portion of a $15 million deal to outfit the country’s presidential guard.”

Just who was the sales agent?

An undercover FBI agent, according to the release.

The names of the indicted individuals as well as the indictments can be found here. Each of the indictments allege substantive FCPA violations, conspiracy to violate the FCPA, and conspiracy to engage in money laundering.

All but one of the individuals was arrested yesterday in Las Vegas. The other was recently arrested in Miami.

In the same November 2009 speech, Breuer noted that the FBI – FCPA specific squad was “growing in size and in expertise” and the release notes that the “investigation is the first large-scale use of undercover law enforcement techniques to uncover FCPA violations…”

Point taken, as the DOJ release notes that “approximately 150 FBI agents executed 14 search warrants” in locations across the country in its investigation.

The DOJ also release suggests that this massive alleged bribery scheme is also being investigated on both sides of the Atlantic as the “United Kingdom’s City of London Police executed seven search warrants in connection with their own investigations into companies involved in the foreign bribery conduct that formed the basis for the indictments.”

Stay tuned for more specifics in this massive case – which I will refer to as “Africa Sting.”

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