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Entries in Joseph Lukas (12)

Tuesday
Feb282012

A Survey Of FCPA Sentences

Last week in Houston the three KBR-related sentences ranged from 30 months in prison for Jack Stanley to just a year of unsupervised probation for Wojciech Chodan. Jeffrey Tesler was in the middle with 21 months in jail. How do their sentences compare?

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Dec272011

Measuring Naaman's Jail Time

How does the thirty-month prison term Ousama Naaman received last week compare with other FCPA sentences?

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Sep162010

Four Sentenced For Vietnam Graft

The DOJ said today that three former employees and a partner of Nexus Technologies Inc., a Philadelphia-based company, were sentenced late yesterday for their roles in a conspiracy to bribe Vietnamese government officials.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Mar162010

Four Guilty Pleas In Vietnam Bribe Case

The Justice Department said Philadelphia-based export company Nexus Technologies Inc. and three employees pleaded guilty today to bribing Vietnamese officials.

Nexus pleaded guilty to conspiracy, and to violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and the Travel Act in connection with commercial bribes and money laundering. Nam Nguyen, 54, of Houston and Vietnam, the president and owner of Nexus, and sibling An Nguyen, 34, of Philadelphia, each pleaded guilty to conspiracy, a substantive FCPA violation, a violation of the Travel Act, and money laundering. Kim Nguyen, 41, another sibling, pleaded guilty to conspiracy, a substantive FCPA violation, and money laundering.

They were arrested in September 2008, along with Joseph T. Lukas, 60, a partner in Nexus until 2005. He pleaded guilty in June 2009 to conspiracy and to violating the FCPA. The DOJ said he admitted in his plea that from 1999 to 2005, he and others at Nexus bribed Vietnamese officials in exchange for contracts with the officials' agencies. The bribes were falsely described in the company's books as "commissions."

Lukas now faces up to 10 years in prison and a possible $350,000 fine. His sentencing is scheduled for April 6, 2010.

Nexus and the Nguyens admitted that from 1999 to 2008 they paid bribes of more than $250,000 to Vietnamese government officials in exchange for contracts. Nexus sold third-party underwater mapping and bomb containment equipment, helicopter parts, chemical detectors, satellite communication parts and air tracking systems.

The DOJ said Nexus acknowledged as part of its guilty plea that "it operated primarily through criminal means and agreed to cease operations."

Sentencing is scheduled for July 13, 2010. Nexus still faces a maximum fine of $27 million. Nam and An Nguyen each face a maximum sentence of 35 years in prison. Kim Nguyen faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.

The government hasn't released the plea agreements for Nexus and the Nguyens; the plea agreement in U.S. v. Lukas remains under court seal.

A copy of the Justice Department's March 16, 2010 release can be viewed here.

Download a copy of the October 29, 2009 superseding indictment in U.S. v. Nexus Technologies, Inc. et al here.

Thursday
Dec032009

Sentencing Watch List

Let's update the list of individuals waiting to be sentenced for violating or conspiring to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Since October, Frederic Bourke and William Jefferson have been sentenced and come off the list. Charles Jumet, Paul Novak, and Fernando Maya Basurto have entered guilty pleas are are added to it. Juan Diaz was to be sentenced on November 13 but the court reset his date. A reader also let us know that Si Chan Wooh, the former head of Schnitzer Steel's international subsidiary, who pleaded guilty in June 2007 to conspiracy to violate the FCPA, is scheduled to be sentenced next year in federal court in Oregon. So the list now stands at 18. 

Here they are:

Fernando Maya Basurto -- no date given.

Jim Bob Brown -- January 28, 2010

Joshua Cantor -- no date given.

Mario Covino -- January 25, 2010

Juan Diaz -- January 29, 2010

Thomas Farrell -- no date given.

Gerald and Patricia Green -- December 17, 2009

Charles Paul Edward Jumet -- February 12, 2010

Clayton Lewis -- no date given.

Joseph T. Lukas -- April 6, 2010

Richard Morlok -- January 25, 2010

Paul G. Novak -- February 19, 2010

Antonio Perez -- October 6, 2009. [No sentencing reported and no resetting of the sentencing date shown in the court docket.]

Si Chan Wooh -- April 26, 2010

 Leo Winston Smith -- December 18, 2009

Albert "Jack" Stanley -- February 24, 2010

Jason Edward Steph -- January 28, 2010

Let us know if we're still missing anyone or if other sentencing dates have changed.

*   *   *   

Words we like.  From Abraham Lincoln, October 1858:

It is the eternal struggle between these two principles — right and wrong — throughout the world. They are the two principles that have stood face to face from the beginning of time; and will ever continue to struggle. The one is the common right of humanity, and the other the divine right of kings. It is the same principle in whatever shape it develops itself. It is the same spirit that says, "You toil and work and earn bread, and I'll eat it." No matter in what shape it comes, whether from the mouth of a king who seeks to bestride the people of his own nation and live by the fruit of their labor, or from one race of men as an apology for enslaving another race, it is the same tyrannical principle.

Tuesday
Oct272009

Their Days Are Numbered

We count at least thirteen people waiting to be sentenced for violating or conspiring to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Both offenses carry a prison term of up to five years. And for substantive offenses the fine can be up to $250,000 or twice the gross gain produced by the bribes. Those on our list either pleaded guilty or were convicted at trial. Their names (linked to posts describing their guilty pleas or convictions) are followed by current sentencing dates. The dates often slip, so we'll try to stay on top of any changes.

Who are they? A former congressman, a famous entrepreneur, husband-and-wife movie producers, c-level executives and top managers. Real people who are probably going to jail. Yes, the FCPA is serious, and the consequences of not complying with it can be tragic.

Here are the twelve men and one woman and their days of reckoning:

Frederic Bourke -- November 10, 2009.
Jim Bob Brown -- January 28, 2010.
Mario Covino -- January 25, 2010.
Juan Diaz -- November 13, 2009.

Gerald and Patricia Green -- December 17, 2009.

William Jefferson -- November 13, 2009.

Joseph T. Lukas -- April 6, 2010.

Richard Morlok -- January 25, 2010.

Antonio Perez -- October 6, 2009. [No sentencing reported and no resetting of the sentencing date shown in the court docket.]

Leo Winston Smith -- December 18, 2009.

Albert "Jack" Stanley -- February 24, 2010.

Jason Edward Steph -- January 28, 2010.

Let us know if there are others who belong on the list.

Tuesday
Jun302009

Enforcement Report For Q2 '09

During the second quarter there were, by our count, eleven Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement actions. They involved four companies -- three firms resolved criminal or civil charges, or both, and one disclosed an investigation -- and 13 individuals who were either indicted, put on trial, pleaded guilty or sentenced. Here's the rundown:

Joseph T. Lukas (June 29, 2009) Guilty plea to a two-count criminal indictment.

Lukas, 60, a partner in Nexus Technologies Inc. until 2005, was indicted in September 2008 on one count of conspiracy to bribe Vietnamese public officials in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and one substantive count of violating the FCPA. He admitted in his guilty plea that from 1999 to 2005, he and other Nexus employees agreed to pay, and knowingly paid, bribes to Vietnamese government officials in exchange for contracts with the officials' agencies. At his sentencing scheduled for April 2010, he faces up to 10 years in prison and a possible $350,000 fine.

The 2008 indictment also charged Nexus and alleged co-conspirators Nam Nguyen, Kim Nguyen and An Nguyen, all U.S. citizens, with similar violations. Their cases are still pending.

William Jefferson (June 9, 2009) The start of his federal criminal trial in Alexandria, Virginia.

It's the first time a former member of congress has been prosecuted under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Jefferson, 62, faces up to 20 years in prison. He's accused of violating the FCPA by arranging bribes to African officials to win contracts for his family's companies, and with soliciting and accepting bribes, wire fraud, money laundering and obstruction of justice. He lost an election last year for a 10th term in the House of Representatives from a district that includes New Orleans.

Frederic Bourke (June 1, 2009) The start of his federal criminal trial in Manhattan.

The co-founder of luxury handbag brand Dooney & Bourke is accused of investing in a deal in Azerbaijan in 1998 that he knew involved paying bribes to officials there. He faces up to 30 years in jail for conspiring to violate the FCPA, money laundering and lying to federal investigators. Bourke says he didn't know about the bribery. His co-defendant Viktor Kozeny is a fugitive in the Bahamas.

United Industrial Corporation (UIC) (May 29, 2009) Civil enforcement action resolved.

The Securities and Exchange Commission filed a settled enforcement action against UIC, an aerospace and defense systems contractor. UIC agreed to pay $337,679.42 in disgorgement and prejudgment interest. (See also Thomas Wurzel below.)

Thomas Wurzel (May 29, 2009) Civil enforcement action resolved.

The SEC filed a settled enforcement action against Thomas Wurzel, the former president of UIC's one-time subsidiary, ACL Technologies, Inc.. He agreed to pay a $35,000 civil penalty. The SEC said Wurzel authorized illegal payments to Egyptian Air Force officials in 2001 and 2002 through an agent in return for business related to a military aircraft depot in Cairo.

Wurzel and UIC were charged with violating the antibribery, books and records and internal controls provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act; Wurzel also faced aiding and abetting violations.

Novo Nordisk A/S (May 11, 2009) Criminal and civil enforcement actions resolved.

Denmark-based Novo Nordisk agreed to pay a $9 million criminal penalty and enter into a deferred prosecution agreement with the DOJ for illegal kickbacks paid to the former Iraqi government under the U.N. oil-for-food program. It also agreed to pay $3,025,066 in civil penalties and $6,005,079 in disgorgement of profits, including pre-judgment interest, to the SEC.

The DOJ charged Novo with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and to violate the books and records provisions of the FCPA. In the civil enforcement action, the SEC charged Novo with violating the FCPA's books and records and internal controls provisions.

Sun Microsystems (May 7, 2009) Investigation disclosed.

Sun said in an SEC filing that it may have violated the FCPA. It didn't reveal where the payments might have occurred or how much the bribes amounted to. But it said the potential offenses, which it has reported to U.S. and other authorities, "could possibly have a material effect on our business."

Juan Diaz and Antonio Perez (April 27, 2009) Guilty pleas to a one-count criminal information.

Diaz and Perez, both 51 of Miami, pleaded guilty to a one-count criminal information. They were charged with conspiracy to violate the FCPA by making corrupt payments to officials from Telecommunications D'Haiti. Diaz paid and concealed $1,028,851 in bribes while acting as an intermediary for three private telecommunications companies. Perez arranged bribes of $674,193 to the Haitian officials while he worked as a controller at one of the companies from March 1998 to January 2002.

Stuart Carson, Hong (Rose) Carson, Paul Cosgrove, David Edmonds, Flavio Ricotti, and Han Yong Kim (April 9, 2009) Indicted by a federal grand jury.

The six former executives of Control Components Inc., an Orange County, Calif.-based valve company, were charged with conspiracy to violate the FCPA and the Travel Act, violating the FCPA, and as to Hong (Rose) Carson, one count of obstruction. It was the biggest multi-party indictment of individuals yet under the FCPA.

Earlier this year, two other former executives from Control Components admitted paying bribes to foreign officials and have been cooperating with authorities. Richard Morlok, 55, the former finance director, and Mario Covino, 44, the company's former director of worldwide factory sales, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA. They're sentencing is set for July 20, 2009.

Shu Quan-Sheng (April 7, 2009) Sentenced to prison.

The Virginia-based physicist who sold controlled space-launch technology to China by bribing government officials there was sentenced to 51 months in prison. Shu, 68, a native of China and naturalized U.S. citizen, pleaded guilty in November 2008 to one count of violating the FCPA and two counts of violating the Arms Export Control Act. Shu had already forfeited $386,740 to the federal government before being sentenced to prison.

Latin Node Inc. (April 7, 2009) Criminal enforcement action resolved.

The former privately held Florida telecommunications company pleaded guilty to a one-count criminal information and agreed to pay a fine of $2 million over the next three years. It was charged with violating the FCPA's antibribery provisions by making improper payments in Honduras and Yemen.
_______________

Click on the party names for the original posts, with links to the charging documents, plea agreements, and news and litigation releases.

View our enforcement report for Q1 '09 here.

View our 2008 enforcement index here.
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Monday
Jun292009

Guilty Plea In Vietnam Bribery Case

A former executive of a Philadelphia-based export company pleaded guilty Monday to being part of a conspiracy to bribe Vietnamese government officials in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Joseph T. Lukas, 60, a resident of New Jersey, was a partner in Nexus Technologies Inc. until 2005. He admitted that from 1999 to 2005, he and other Nexus employees agreed to pay, and knowingly paid, bribes to Vietnamese government officials in exchange for contracts with the officials' agencies. The bribes were falsely described in the company's books as "commissions."

Lukas now faces up to 10 years in prison and a possible $350,000 fine. His sentencing is scheduled for April 6, 2010.

He was arrested in September 2008, a day after being indicted by a federal grand jury in Philadelphia on one count of conspiracy to bribe Vietnamese public officials in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and one substantive count of violating the FCPA. The indictment also charged the company and alleged co-conspirators Nam Nguyen, Kim Nguyen and An Nguyen, all U.S. citizens, with similar violations. Those cases are still pending.

According to the indictment, Nexus, a privately-held Delaware company with offices in Philadelphia, New Jersey and Vietnam, sold third-party underwater mapping and bomb containment equipment, helicopter parts, chemical detectors, satellite communication parts and air tracking systems to the government of Vietnam.

The indictment charged that the defendants paid at least $150,000 to officials at Vietnam’s Ministries of Transport, Industry and Public Safety to secure supply contracts. It said Nam Nguyen negotiated contracts and bribes with Vietnamese government officials while Lukas negotiated with vendors in the United States. Kim and An Nguyen allegedly arranged for the transfer of funds at Nam Nguyen’s direction.

The company's website (in English and Vietnamese) says:

Nexus specializes in supplying equipment and consulting / system integrating services for five high-growth, state-funded industries:

* Petroleum
* Power Generation, Transmission and Distribution
* Civil Aviation
* Marine & Sea Ports
* Other Heavy Industries

Doing business in Asia requires relationships, trust, and the time to build them. Nexus is proud to have established, through its consistent presence and reliable performance, trusted relationships with customers.

The three other individual defendants in the case and Nexus are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty at trial beyond a reasonable doubt.

View the DOJ's June 29, 2009 release here.
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Wednesday
Apr082009

Rocket Scientist Sentenced To Prison

The Virginia-based physicist who sold controlled space-launch technology to China by bribing government officials there has been sentenced to 51 months in prison. Shu Quan-Sheng (left), 68, a native of China, naturalized U.S. citizen and PhD physicist, pleaded guilty in November 2008 to one count of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and two counts of violating the Arms Export Control Act. Shu had already forfeited $386,740 to the federal government before being sentenced to prison.

Shu is the President, Secretary and Treasurer of AMAC International Inc., a high-tech company based in Newport News, with another office in Beijing. AMAC performs research through grants funded by the Small Business Research program on behalf of the Department of Energy and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Shu violated the FCPA by offering "percentage points" in 2006 worth a total of $189,300 to officials at a research institute affiliated with the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology. He was trying to land a contract to develop a liquid hydrogen tank system for a heavy payload launch facility located on Hainan Island in the PRC. In January 2007, the $4 million hydrogen liquefier project was awarded to a French company that Shu represented.

Shu violated the Arms Export Control Act by willfully exporting a defense service from the United States to the PRC without first obtaining the required export license or written approval from the State Department. He provided the PRC with assistance in the design and development of a cryogenic fueling system for space launch vehicles to be used at the heavy payload launch facility on Hainan.

The investigation involved the FBI, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of Export Enforcement.

In a prior post we noted that Shu's arrest in September 2008 was similar to arrests earlier that month of U.S. citizens Nam Nguyen, Joseph Lukas, Kim Nguyen, and An Nguyen, along with their Philadelphia-based company, Nexus Technologies (see our post here). They were charged with one count of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and four substantive counts of violating the FCPA. They're accused of bribing government officials in Vietnam to secure contracts to supply high-tech items -- including third-party underwater mapping and bomb containment equipment, helicopter parts, chemical detectors, satellite communication parts and air tracking systems. That case doesn't yet involve charges under U.S. export laws.

Download the DOJ's April 7, 2009 release here.
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Sunday
Feb152009

Vietnam In The News

Last month we reported the conviction in a Tokyo court of three Japanes executives and their company on charges of bribing a senior Vietnamese government official. The illegal payments of $820,000 were intended to secure contracts for road projects backed by Japanese aid money. In court, the recipient of the bribes was identified as Huynh Ngoc Sy, an official in Ho Chi Minh City.

Last week, the Vietnam News Agency reported the arrest of the same Mr. Sy, 56, for "abuse of power." He was the former deputy director of Ho Chi Minh City’s Department of Transport, and the former director of the East-West Highway and City Water Environment Improvement projects. After his arrest, investigators from the Ministry of Public Security’s Anti-corruption Department searched his house. Police also arrested Sy’s deputy, Le Qua, and searched his house.

In November last year, Sy was suspended from his job and banned from traveling outside Vietnam. That action came after the country's Prime Minister, Nguyen Tan Dung, directed his government to "co-operate with Japanese agencies investigating allegations that officials of a Japanese firm had bribed Vietnamese officials to get project contracts."

Vietnam's biggest aid provider is Japan. But the bribery scandal caused such a flap in Japan that it suspended aid, including low-interest loans for infrastructure projects. Vietnam's state television reported last week that following Sy's arrest, Vietnam's prime minister asked Japan to resume the loan program.

Japan has a low incidence of domestic public corruption -- it ranked 18th on the 2008 Corruption Perception Index, tied with Belgium and the United States. But until this case, it hadn't prosecuted any overseas bribery cases. In June 2008, the OECD criticized Japan for its "lagging" enforcement. We speculated that this case went to court only because it involved the misuse of Japanese taxpayer funds in the foreign aid program.

Vietnam is ranked 121st on the 2008 Corruption Perception Index, tied with Nepal, Nigeria, Sao Tome and Principe, and Togo. Despite Vietnam's corruption-prone reputation, it wasn't named in any Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement actions until recently. In September 2008, U.S. citizens Nam Nguyen, Joseph Lukas, Kim Nguyen, and An Nguyen, along with their Philadelphia-based company, Nexus Technologies, were charged under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act with bribing government officials in Vietnam. The alleged bribes were intended to secure contracts to supply high-tech items -- including third-party underwater mapping and bomb containment equipment, helicopter parts, chemical detectors, satellite communication parts and air tracking systems. Their trial is pending.

In December 2008, Siemens' guilty plea to FCPA books and records violations involved Vietnam. The Securities and Exchange Commission's complaint (download the pdf here) said Siemens' medical division "paid $183,000 in early 2005 and $200,000 in early 2006 in connection with the sale of approximately $6 million of medical devices on two projects involving the Vietnamese Ministry of Health." And in 2002, the complaint said, Siemens' communications division paid about $140,000 in bribes as "part of a much larger bribery scheme concocted by high-level managers at Siemens regional company in Vietnam, SLV, to pay bribes to government officials at Vietel and the Vietnamese Ministry of Defense in order to acquire Phase I of the Vietel GSM tender."
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