WASHINGTON - A former chief executive officer of Florida-based telecommunications company Latin Node Inc. (LatiNode) was sentenced yesterday to 46 months in prison for paying bribes to former government officials in Honduras, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.
U.S. District Judge Joan A. Lenard for the Southern District of Florida also ordered Jorge Granados, of Miami, to serve two years of supervised release following the prison term.
Granados, 55, pleaded guilty on May 19, 2011, to conspiracy to violate the anti-bribery provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) in connection with a scheme to pay Honduran officials more than $500,000 in bribes. To date, four former senior executives of LatiNode have pleaded guilty to conspiring to pay bribes to the Honduran officials.
In his guilty plea, Granados admitted to authorizing corrupt payments to foreign government officials for the purpose of securing business advantages for LatiNode from Honduras’s state-owned telecommunications company, Empresa Hondureña de Telecomunicaciones (Hondutel). According to court documents, LatiNode provided wholesale telecommunications services using Internet protocol technology to countries throughout the world, including Honduras. In December 2005, LatiNode learned that it was the sole winner of an “interconnection agreement” with Hondutel, permitting LatiNode to use Hondutel’s telecommunications lines to establish a network between Honduras and the United States and to provide long distance services between the two countries.
According to court documents, Granados and other LatiNode executives, including Manuel Salvoch, the chief financial officer; Manuel Caceres, the vice president for business development; and Juan Pablo Vasquez, the chief commercial officer, agreed to a secret deal to pay bribes to Hondutel officials, including the general manager, a senior attorney for Hondutel, and a minister of the Honduran government who became a representative on the Hondutel Board of Directors. According to court documents, between September 2006 and June 2007, Granados and others caused more than $500,000 in bribes to be paid to the Honduran officials, concealing many of the payments by laundering the money through LatiNode subsidiaries in Guatemala and to accounts in Honduras controlled by the Honduran government officials.
LatiNode pleaded guilty on April 7, 2009, to a one-count information charging the company with a criminal violation of the FCPA and agreed to pay a $2 million fine. The resolution of the criminal investigation of LatiNode reflected, in large part, the actions of eLandia International Inc. in disclosing potential FCPA violations to the department after eLandia’s acquisition of LatiNode in 2007 and discovery of the improper payments.
Salvoch pleaded guilty on Jan. 12, 2011, to conspiracy to violate the FCPA and is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 7, 2011. Vasquez pleaded guilty on Jan. 21, 2011, to conspiracy to violate the FCPA and is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 8, 2011. Caceres pleaded guilty on May 18, 2011, to conspiracy to violate the FCPA, and is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 28, 2011. The three defendants each face prison sentences of up to five years.
The case was prosecuted by Principal Deputy Chief Jeffrey H. Knox and Trial Attorney Amanda Aikman of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section. Significant assistance was provided by Trial Attorney James M. Koukios. The case was investigated by the FBI’s Miami Field Office and ICE Homeland Security Investigation’s Foreign Corruption Investigations Group in Miami.