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Foreign Official Reports Attempted Briber Leading To Enforcement Action

[This post is part of a periodic series regarding “old” FCPA enforcement actions]

The 2006 Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement action against Faheem Mousa Salam had an unusual origin in that the foreign official Salam attempted to bribe – a senior Iraqi police official – reported the conduct to the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR). The police official then became a confidential informant leading to an undercover operation by SIGIR with an agent posing as a Procurement Officer for the Civilian Police Assistance Training Team (CPATT – a multinational organization tasked with training, mentoring and equipping the Iraq Police Force and responsible for ordering and supplying materials to the Iraqi Police Force).

The enforcement action is also notable in that Salam was prosecuted, plead guilty, and was sentenced to three years in prison for offering the bribe.

As alleged in this criminal complaint [1], Salam was a U.S. naturalized citizen living in Baghdad, Iraq who was working for Titan Corporation as a translator. According to the charging documents, Salam engaged in business transactions unrelated to his employment as a translator.

After being introduced to the police official by a high-ranking Iraqi Ministry of Interior official, Salam offered to give the police official a “$60,000 ‘gift’ if the [police official] would arrange for CPATT to purchase from Salam a map printer and 1,000 armored vests.” According to the complaint, Salam suggested that the total cost for the proposed transaction would be $1,090,000 ($90,000 for the printer, and $1,000 for each of the vests) and the police official stated that “he needed time to consider the offer.” A few weeks later, Salam contacted the police official to discuss the proposed transaction and “in en effort to secure the contract” offered to reduce the total costs of the armored vests. Because of the reduced cost, the “gift” to the police official would be reduced to $50,000.

Thereafter, according to the complaint, the police official “contacted SIGIR officials to report Salam’s conduct” and thereafter the police official “agreed to participate in a consensually monitored telephone conversation with Salam” which SIGIR agents monitored and recorded. During the conversation, “in an attempt to finalize the transaction, Salam suggested that he could further reduce the price of the vests and similarly reduced his proposed gift to the [police official] to $30,000.”

[2]

Thereafter, according to the complaint, an “Agent with SIGIR acting with authorization for CPATT to initiate an undercover operation, sent an e-mail to Salam posing as a Procurement Officer for CPATT. The complaint alleges:

“On or about February 6, 2006, Special Agent DuBois met Salam at a predetermined location at the Embassy Palace in Baghdad, Iraq. During the conversation, Salam and Special Agent DuBois negotiated prices for the map printer and the 1,000 armored vests. Salam’s final offer for the deal was $92,000 for the printer and $600 for each vest. Salam also offered Special Agetn DuBois personally $28,000 to $35,000 to process the contacts. […] When Special Agent DuBois asked how the ‘gift’ would be made, Salam responded that the money could be paid in cash or wired to anywhere Special Agent DuBois desired.”

The complaint further alleges:

“On or about February 15, 2006, Salam and Special Agent DuBois met for a second time at the Embassy Palace in Baghdad, Iraq. During the conversation, they again agreed on the same sale price for the printer and the armored vests ($92,000) and a “gift” to Special Agent DuBois in the amount of $28,000 to $35,000. Special Agent DuBois requested that he receive some money immediately for processing the paperwork. Salam stated he could give him $100.00 upon the completion of the paperwork and would provide the additional funds after the transaction was complete.

On or about February 16,2006, Special Agent DuBois received an email from [Salam stating he had] “bad news” and would not be able to go forward with the transaction. No information was provided regarding the reason for the decision.”

Based on these allegations, Salam was charged with violating the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions to which he pleaded guilty [3]. In its sentencing memo [4], the DOJ stated:

“As part of his plea agreement, Salam agreed to meet with government investigators on several occasions. Over the past ten (10) months, Salam has explained his involvement in offering bribes in Iraq to government officials and provided additional information regarding individuals involved in the instant matter. Salam also indicated his willingness to assist law enforcement officials in the investigation of corruption in Iraq; however, those efforts ended when Salam’s co-workers and other individuals in Iraq learned of his arrest thereby preventing Salam from being able to act covertly on behalf of the government.”

Salam was sentenced to three years in prison. This DOJ release [5] states:

“At sentencing, the government argued that Salam was motivated by greed and the prospect of financial gain, rather than any desire to provide the Iraqi troops with equipment; in fact, Salam made no attempt to check the brand names, quality or source of the vests, demonstrating that his motives were anything but altruistic.”

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