- FCPA Professor - http://fcpaprofessor.com -

Kickbacks For Bugging Equipment

[This post is part of a periodic series regarding “old” Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement actions]

In 1989, the DOJ charged (see here [1]) F.G. Mason Engineering Inc. (a Connecticut company that manufactured anti-bugging devices to detect the presence of electronic surveillance) and Francis Mason (the President and sole shareholder of the company) with conspiracy to violate the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions.  The conduct at issue focused on payments to Dirk Ekkehard Zoeller (a civilian employee of the West German Military Intelligence Services (“MAD”), an agency of the Ministry of the Defense) whose responsibilities included the selection, procurement and testing of various equipment for MAD and other agencies of the West German Government.

According to the criminal information, the amount of kickbacks to Zoeller were approximately 13% of the payments received by F.G. Mason Engineering from MAD under the procurement contracts and approximately 50% of the payments received by the company from MAD for service contracts.  The total amount of the corrupt payments to Zoeller was approximately $225,000.

The information alleged that the conspiracy permitted F.G. Mason Engineering to “obtain inflated and excessive prices on its contracts with MAD,” caused  “MAD and other agencies of the West German government to make excessive and unnecessary expenditures for the procurement and servicing” of the devices, and “deprived MAD and other agencies of the West German government of economically material information in their business dealings with F.G. Mason Engineering.”

F.G. Mason Engineering and Francis Mason pleaded guilty.  (See here [2] and here [3] for the plea agreements).  F.G. Mason Engineering and Francis Mason were ordered to pay a $75,000 fine to be paid jointly and severally.  F.G. Mason Engineering was placed on probation for two years and Francis Mason was placed on probation for five years. (See here [4] and here [5]).

The plea agreements note that the defendants agreed to “make restitution to the [West German government] which is the victim of the defendants’ illegal conduct.”  Specifically, the company was ordered to make restitution to the West German government “in the amount of $160,000 which will take the form of a credit granted by the company against monies to be paid to the company by the Ministry of Defense under existing contracts.”  In addition, the company agreed to “provide certain discounts on future purchases of equipment or services should such purchases be made by the German Government.”  In the plea agreements the defendants also agreed to cooperate in the West German prosecution of Zoeller.

According to this [6] article, F.G. Mason Engineering also provided surveillance equipment to the U.S. government.  This [7] internet source suggests that the company closed after the FCPA enforcement action.