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Longest-Ever FCPA Prison Sentence Handed Down for Haiti Telecom Bribes

Thursday, October 27, 2011
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The former president of a Florida telecommunications company was sentenced to 15 years in prison this week for his role in a scheme to pay bribes to officials at a state-owned telecom company in Haiti. According to the Department of Justice, this is the longest prison sentence ever imposed in a case involving the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. A DOJ press release adds that the telecom company’s former executive vice president was sentenced to seven years in prison and that the two defendants have also been ordered to forfeit $3.09 million. The two men were convicted in August of one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA and wire fraud, seven counts of FCPA violations, one count of money laundering conspiracy and 12 counts of money laundering.

According to DOJ, evidence introduced at trial showed that the defendants participated in a scheme to commit foreign bribery and money laundering from November 2001 through March 2005, during which time their company paid more than $890,000 to shell companies to be used for bribes to Haitian officials. The purpose of these bribes was to obtain various business advantages from the Haitian officials, including the issuance of preferred telecom rates, reductions in the number of minutes for which payment was owed and the continuance of the company’s telecom connection with Haiti. To conceal the bribes the defendants used various shell companies to receive and forward the payments. They also created false records claiming that the payments were for consulting services that were never intended to be performed or actually performed.

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