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Entries in Edgar Valverde Acosta (8)

Friday
Jun172011

ICE Appeals 'Victim' Ruling

The Costa Rican state-owned utility that lost a bid earlier this month to become the first 'victim' compensated under federal law in an FCPA case has appealed the lower court's decision.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jun022011

From Costa Rican Jail, Ex Alcatel Boss Supports ICE's 'Victim' Claim

A Costa Rican citizen serving jail time there has said in a sworn statement filed in U.S. federal court that no one at the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad S.A. (ICE) knew about Alcatel's bribery except those directly involved.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
May052011

Costa Rican 'Victim' Objects To Alcatel-Lucent Settlement

A government-owned company that awarded Alcatel-Lucent more than $300 in bribe-tainted contracts has asked a federal court in Florida to block Alcatel's FCPA settlement with the U.S. government, saying the terms violate a federal victim's rights law.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Apr282011

Ex Head of State Jailed For Alcatel Bribes

The former president of Costa Rica who took bribes from French telecoms company Alcatel was sentenced to five years in prison this week.

Click to read more ...

Monday
Oct252010

The Fugitive Report 2010

An update of our annual list of known FCPA fugitives.

Click to read more ...

Friday
Feb192010

Alcatel-Lucent Headed For Settlement

According to its latest consolidated financial statements, Alcatel-Lucent has reached agreement in principle with the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission to settle Foreign Corrupt Practices Act offenses related to Costa Rica, Taiwan and Kenya. If the settlement goes ahead, the company will pay a $92 million criminal fine (payable over three years) and a $45.4 million in disgorgement to the SEC.

The settlement with the DOJ would be structured similar to Siemens', with the company entering into a three-year deferred prosecution agreement for accounting and internal controls offenses, while three subsidiaries — Alcatel-Lucent France, Alcatel-Lucent Trade and Alcatel Centroamerica — would each plead guilty to violating the FCPA’s antibribery, books and records and internal controls provisions. The DOJ agreement would require appointment of a French compliance monitor (in Siemens' case, the monitor was German).

The Paris-based telecommunications company was formed with the 2006 merger of French-firm Alcatel and the American company Lucent Technologies Inc. Before the merger, Alcatel had American depositary receipts traded on the New York Stock Exchange and Lucent was also listed on the NYSE. The merged company's shares trade on the NYSE under the symbol ALU.

We've written about both companies before.

In September 2008, former Alcatel executive Christian Sapsizian, 62, was sentenced to 30 months in prison, three years of supervised release, and forfeiture of $261,500 for bribing employees of the state-owned telecommunications authority in Costa Rica. He had pleaded guilty in June 2007 to two counts of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Sapsizian, a French citizen, was a 20-year Alcatel employee and served as the company's deputy vice president for Latin America. In August 2001, Alcatel received a $149 million cellular network contract from Costa Rica's El Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE). Sapsizian had promised to pay an ICE board member and other officials up to 2 percent of the value of the contract. Before being fired in 2004, he caused Alcatel to wire $14 million in “commission” payments to a consultant, who then transferred $2.5 million to the ICE official.

Sapsizian admitted to conspiring with Edgar Valverde Acosta, a citizen of Costa Rica who was Alcatel’s senior country officer there, to arrange the bribes. Acosta was indicted with Sapsizian on June 14, 2007. He's an FCPA fugitive, last known address: Costa Rica.

The U.S. indictments of Sapsizian and Acosta resulted from bribery investigations by Costa Rican authorities. In October 2004, Alcatel learned of the investigations. It fired Sapsizian and Acosta and disclosed to U.S. authorities that it had uncovered payments from employees and consultants to government officials, ICE employees, and political parties.

Lucent, meanwhile, settled Foreign Corrupt Practices Act charges in December 2007 with the DOJ and SEC. Its violations occurred before the merger with Alcatel. The settlement included a $1 million criminal fine and $1.5 million in civil penalties. Lucent's offenses involved payment of travel expenses for Chinese government officials from 2000 to 2003. The FCPA includes an affirmative defense that allows payment or reimbursement of expenses of foreign officials that are directly related to “the promotion, demonstration, or explanation of products or services." 15 U.S.C. §§ 78dd-1(c)(2)(A) and 78dd-2(c)(2)(A). Many of Lucent's payments, however, were not directly related to legitimate business purposes and were not recorded accurately in its books and records.

In April 2009, Alcatel-Lucent signed agreements in Washington, D.C. worth $1.7 billion with China Mobile and China Telecom to help the Chinese companies roll out 3G technology.

Here's part of the company's disclosure from its latest Form 10-K:

As previously disclosed in its public filings, Alcatel-Lucent has engaged in settlement discussions with the DOJ and the SEC with regard to the ongoing FCPA investigations. These discussions have resulted in December 2009 in agreements in principle with the staffs of each of the agencies. There can be no assurances, however, that final agreements will be reached with the agencies or accepted in court. If finalized, the agreements would relate to alleged violations of the FCPA involving several countries, including Costa Rica, Taiwan, and Kenya.

Under the agreement in principle with the SEC, Alcatel-Lucent would enter into a consent decree under which Alcatel-Lucent would neither admit nor deny violations of the antibribery, internal controls and books and records provisions of the FCPA and would be enjoined from future violations of U.S. securities laws, pay U.S. $45.4 million in disgorgement of profits and prejudgment interest and agree to a three-year French anticorruption compliance monitor to evaluate in accordance with the provisions of the consent decree (unless any specific provision therein is expressly determined by the French Ministry of Justice to violate French law) the effectiveness of Alcatel-Lucent's internal controls, record-keeping and financial reporting policies and procedures. Under the agreement in principle with the DOJ, Alcatel-Lucent would enter into a three-year deferred prosecution agreement (DPA), charging Alcatel-Lucent with violations of the internal controls and books and records provisions of the FCPA, and Alcatel-Lucent would pay a total criminal fine of U.S. $ 92 million—payable in four installments over the course of three years.

In addition, three Alcatel-Lucent subsidiaries—Alcatel-Lucent France, Alcatel-Lucent Trade and Alcatel Centroamerica—would each plead guilty to violations of the FCPA’s antibribery, books and records and internal accounting controls provisions. The agreement with the DOJ would also contain provisions relating to a three-year French anticorruption compliance monitor. If Alcatel-Lucent fully complies with the terms of the DPA, the DOJ would dismiss the charges upon conclusion of the three-year term.

Tuesday
Sep012009

The FCPA's Most Wanted

People charged with a Foreign Corrupt Practices Act-related offense either cop a plea or fight the case in court. Except for those who choose the third option. They run. If they're living outside the U.S. when indicted, they might plan to never come back. That strategy can only work if they happen to be in a country that won't extradite them, which is harder to predict in practice than on paper. Others have tried to find someplace new that's friendly and beyond the reach of the U.S. Justice Department. But as Viktor Kozeny's uncomfortable years in the Bahamas demonstrate, that's not easy either, even with millions of dollars to make it happen.

The first FCPA fugitives appeared in 1982 and the latest this summer. Over the years, plenty have been caught and handed over to U.S. authorities. Others have eventually turned themselves in, deciding a life spent looking over their shoulder isn't for them after all ("Hey there. Small world, isn't it?").

Yet some people facing FCPA charges, including the twelve mentioned below, are still at large, doing whatever they can to stay out of the jurisdiction of the U.S. federal courts.

Let's meet them:

Ousama Naaman, Canadian, intermediary for a U.S. chemical company. Indicted August 2008; arrested July 30, 2009 in Frankfurt, Germany. Now in Germany.

Jeffrey Tesler, British, intermediary for Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR). Indicted February 2009; arrested March 5, 2009 in London, England. Now in the U.K.

Wojciech Chodan, British, salesman for a KBR affiliate. Indicted 2009. Location unknown.

James K. Tillery, American, executive of Willbros International. Indicted 2008. Location unknown.

Edgar Valverde Acosta, Costa Rican, Alcatel’s former senior country officer there. Superseding indictment issued March 2007. Last known location: Costa Rica.

Viktor Kozeny, Czech-born, Irish passport, president and chairman of Oily Rock Group Ltd. Indicted 2005. Now in the Bahamas.

Pablo Barquero Hernandez, Costa Rican, employed by Owl Securities and Investment Ltd. Indicted 2001. Last known location: Costa Rica.

Frerik Pluimers, Dutch, chairman, president and CEO of Saybolt International. Indicted 1998. Last known location: the Netherlands.

Rami Dotan, Israeli, air force officer. Indicted 1994. Last known location: Israel. The brigadier-general in charge of Israeli air force procurement was court martialed in Israel in 1991 and convicted along with two others of bribery, fraud, and theft for skimming at least $10 million from jet engine contracts with General Electric in the U.S. He was demoted to private and sentenced to 13 years' imprisonment. Released in 2003.

Harold Katz, an Israeli and U.S. citizen, Israeli lawyer. Indicted 1994 (with Rami Dotan, above). Last known location: Israel.

Mario S. Gonzalez, Mexican, associated with Grupo Delta, a Mexican corporation acting as intermediary to Pemex. Indicted 1982. Last known location: Mexico.

Ricardo G. Beltran, Mexican, also associated with Grupo Delta. Indicted 1982. Last known location: Mexico.
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Tuesday
Sep232008

French Citizen Jailed For FCPA Offenses

Former Alcatel executive Christian Sapsizian, 62, has been sentenced to 30 months in prison, three years of supervised release, and forfeiture of $261,500 for bribing employees of the state-owned telecommunications authority in Costa Rica. Sapsizian had pleaded guilty in June 2007 to two counts of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Under his guilty plea, he faced a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and $330,000 in forfeiture.

Sapsizian, a French citizen, was a 20-year Alcatel employee and served as the company's deputy vice president for Latin America. In August 2001, Alcatel received a $149 million cellular network contract from Costa Rica's El Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE). Sapsizian had promised to pay an ICE board member and other officials up to 2 percent of the value of the contract. Before being fired in 2004, he caused Alcatel to wire $14 million in “commission” payments to a consultant, who then transferred $2.5 million to the ICE official.

Sapsizian admitted to conspiring with Edgar Valverde Acosta, a citizen of Costa Rica who was Alcatel’s senior country officer there, to arrange the bribes. Acosta was indicted with Sapsizian and on June 14, 2007, the federal court in Miami transferred him to fugitive status.

Alcatel learned in October 2004 that Costa Rican authorities were investigating payments from its consultants to government officials, political parties, and officials of ICE. The company's internal investigation led to the firing of employees and consultants who were involved and its self-disclosure to the U.S. Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission. Until late 2006, when it merged with Lucent, Alcatel was a French company with American depositary receipts traded on the New York Stock Exchange. It's now called Alcatel-Lucent.

The Justice Department said an ongoing investigation is being conducted by the FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. It also said it received help from Costa Rican and French law enforcement authorities.

View the DOJ's September 23, 2008 release here.

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