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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.

Indicting a “Foreign Official” – Part II

Yes, there is FCPA news other than the Africa Sting case.

In connection with the Green case (see here), an indictment was recently unsealed (see here) against Juthamas Siriwan and Jittisopa Siriwan.

According to the indictment, Juthamas “was the senior government officer of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT)” and she is the “foreign official” the Greens were convicted of bribing. Jittisopa is the daughter of the “foreign official” and also alleged to be an “employee of Thailand Privilege Card Co. Ltd.” an entity controlled by TAT and an alleged “instrumentality of the Thai government.”

Incidentally, the Green’s sentencing (which was to occur today) in which the government is essentially seeking a life sentence for Mr. Green based on FCPA, as well as other convictions and factors, was postponed until March. For more on that issue, see here.

As noted in the first Indicting a “Foreign Official” post a month ago (see here), the FCPA only covers “bribe-payers, not “bribe-takers.”

Thus, like the prior indictment against the alleged Haiti “foreign officials” (Robert Antoine and Jean Rene Duperval), the charges against the Siriwans are not FCPA charges, but largely conspiracy to money launder and “transporting funds to promote unlawful activity.”

However, unlike Antoine and Duperval who are alleged to have U.S. bank accounts which were used in the connection with the bribery scheme, the Siriwan’s bank accounts were located in Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the Isle of Jersey.

There are however facts alleged in the Siriwan indictment which suggest a U.S. nexus. The indictment alleges that the Greens did on occasion “arrange for cash payments to be made directly to Juthamas Siriwan, including during her trips to Los Angeles, California.” The indictment further alleges that Juthamas Siriwan “sent and caused to be sent to co-conspirator Gerald Green a facsimile on TAT letterhead providing wire instructions for transferring funds.” Finally, the indictment also alleges that “co-conspirator Patricia Green received instructions to divide ‘commission’ payments owed to defendant Juthamas Siriwan into wire transfer to three separate accounts.” Although the indictment does not say, it is presumed that the facsimile and instructions were sent to the U.S.

The “transporting funds to promote unlawful activity” charges (two – eight) of the indictment rely on 18 USC 1956(a)(2)(A) which reads in pertinent part:

“(2) Whoever transports, transmits, or transfers, or attempts to transport, transmit, or transfer a monetary instrument or funds from a place in the United States to or through a place outside the United States or to a place in the United States from or through a place outside the United States

(A) with the intent to promote the carrying on of specified unlawful activity

shall be sentenced to a fine of not more than $500,000 or twice the value of the monetary instrument or funds involved in the transportation, transmission, or transfer, whichever is greater, or imprisonment for not more than twenty years, or both.”

The specified unlawful activity alleged in the indictment is “namely, bribery of a foreign official” in violation of the FCPA; “bribery of a public official of Thailand” in violation of Thai law; and the “misappropriation, theft, or embezzlement of public funds by or for the benefit of a public official” in violation of Thai law.

In November 2009, Attorney General Eric Holder stated (see here) that the U.S. was committed to recovering funds obtained by “foreign officials” through bribery and the indictment seeks forfeiture of approximately $1.7 million in the foreign bank accounts.

Indicting a “Foreign Official”

Yesterday, the DOJ announced (see here) the unsealing of an indictment (see here) against Joel Esquenazi, Carlos Rodriguez, and Marguerite Grandison which charges (among other things) conspiracy to violate the FCPA and substantive FCPA violations for an alleged scheme to bribe two former employees of Haiti Teleco, the alleged “state-owned national telecommunications company.”

Esquenazi and Rodriguez are former executives of a privately owned, Florida-based telecommunications company and Grandison was the President of Telecom Consulting Services Corp., a Florida based company which served as an intermediary.

The unsealed indictment is the latest chapter in this matter; in May 2009, the DOJ announced (see here) the guilty pleas of Juan Diaz and Antonio Perez in connection with the same scheme.

This matter is also yet another example of an FCPA enforcement action in which the “foreign official” is an employee of an alleged state-owned or state-controlled entity.

That, however, is not why this enforcement action is noteworthy.

It is noteworthy because DOJ also indicted Robert Antoine and Jean Rene Duperval – the alleged “foreign officials.” According to the indictment, Antoine and Duperval both served as the “Director of International Relations of Haiti Teleco” and were responsible for negotiating contracts with international telecommunications companies on behalf of Haiti Teleco.

Of course, the charges were not FCPA charges, because the FCPA only covers “bribe-payers” not “bribe-takers” (see here, here, for prior posts on this subject).

Rather the charges against Antoine and Duperval were money laundering conspiracy and/or substantive money laundering charges.

According to the DOJ release, Antoine is from “Miami and Haiti” and Duperval is from “Miramar, Fla. and Haiti.” Further, according to the indictment, both individuals had bank accounts in the U.S. and these accounts were used in connection with the bribery scheme. (I wonder if Washington Mutual, Wachovia, or Miami Federal Credit Union were aware that Haitian “foreign officials” were among its customers!)

To my knowledge this is the first time “foreign officials” have been specifically charged as defendants in connection with an FCPA enforcement action. This indictment of “foreign officials” comes on the heels of AG Holder’s recent speech (see here) in which he stated that the U.S. government was committed to recovering funds obtained by “foreign officials” through bribery.

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