Tuesday, January 19, 2010

22 Indicted in FBI Sting on Paying Foreign Bribes


Twenty-two executives and employees at suppliers to the military and law enforcement agencies were arrested on the eve of their industry's annual trade show in Las Vegas after a 2 1/2-year undercover sting operation aimed at schemes to bribe a foreign official.

The Justice Department called the case the largest single investigation and prosecution of individuals in the history of the 1977 Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which bars bribery of foreign government officials. It also is the first large-scale use of an undercover operation in enforcing the corrupt practices act.

In a briefing for reporters, Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer, head of the Justice Department's criminal division, said there are more than 140 open investigations under the act.

Twenty-one of the 22 people caught up in the case were arrested in Las Vegas, where they were preparing to attend the 2010 Shooting, Hunting & Outdoor Trade Show, a convention with more than 55,000 attendees at the Sands Expo & Convention Center. The convention started Tuesday.

Charged are people at companies in eight states and executives at companies in the United Kingdom and Israel. Five defendants were identified in federal court in Las Vegas as citizens of the United Kingdom. Two others were from Israel, and one was from Peru.

None of the 21 entered pleas during initial appearances before U.S. Magistrate Judge Peggy Leen. She set bond and release restrictions for 13 — ordering most to surrender their passports and instructing each to appear Feb. 3 in federal court in Washington.

The judge rescheduled detention hearings for three defendants until Wednesday and set hearings Thursday for another five.

The defendants allegedly agreed to pay a 20 percent commission to a sales agent they believed represented the defense minister for an African country. They were trying to win a multimillion-dollar deal to outfit the presidential guard...............

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