Federal Bureau of Investigation Arrests 22 in Bribery Sting Operation
[The following article originally appeared in the Agence France-Presse, 19 January 2010.]
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents have arrested 22 people working in the arms and security industries in a massive sting operation, charging them with trying to bribe an African defense minister, U.S. officials said January 19. In the biggest operation ever of its kind, the 22--including at least three British nationals--were held under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), the Department of Justice said. The detainees--21 arrested January 18 in Las Vegas, Nevada, the other in Miami--are charged with trying to obtain a $15 million contract in an African nation to outfit the presidential guard.
This ongoing investigation is the first large-scale use of undercover law enforcement techniques to uncover FCPA violations, Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer said. The fight to erase foreign bribery from the corporate playbook will not be won overnight, but these actions are a turning point. From now on, would-be FCPA violators should stop and ponder whether the person they are trying to bribe might really be a federal agent.
The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act bars U.S. companies and citizens from bribing foreign officials to win business. During a 2 1/2-year investigation, FBI agents pretended to be acting on behalf of the defense minister of an African country, although no such minister was involved in the operation.
The defendants allegedly agreed to pay a twenty percent "commission" to a sales agent who they thought represented the minister in order to win the contract. …