A former executive of the U.S. subsidiary of a French power and transportation company was charged in a superseding indictment for his alleged participation in a scheme to pay bribes to foreign government officials, Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut David B. Fein and Assistant Director in Charge Valerie Parlave of the FBI’s Washington Field Office announced today.
William Pomponi, 65, a former vice president of sales for the Connecticut-based U.S. subsidiary, was charged in a superseding indictment late yesterday in the District of Connecticut with conspiring to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and to launder money, as well as substantive charges of FCPA and money laundering violations.
On April 16, 2013, charges against Frederic Pierucci and a guilty plea by David Rothschild in connection with the bribery scheme were announced. Pierucci is charged in the superseding indictment with Pomponi. On Nov. 2, 2012, Rothschild pleaded guilty to a criminal information.
According to the charges, the defendants, together with others, paid bribes to officials in Indonesia, including a member of Indonesian Parliament and high-ranking members of Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN), the state-owned and state-controlled electricity company in Indonesia, in exchange for assistance in securing a $118 million contract, known as the Tarahan project, for the company and its consortium partner to provide power-related services for the citizens of Indonesia. The charges allege that, in order to conceal the bribes, the defendants retained two consultants purportedly to provide legitimate consulting services on behalf of the power company and its subsidiaries in connection with the Tarahan project. In reality, however, the primary purpose for hiring the consultants was allegedly to use the consultants to pay bribes to Indonesian officials.
The first consultant retained by the defendants allegedly received hundreds of thousands of dollars into his Maryland bank account to be used to bribe the member of Parliament, according to the charges. The consultant then allegedly transferred the bribe money to a bank account in Indonesia for the benefit of the official. According to court documents, emails between Pomponi, Pierucci, Rothschild and their co-conspirators discuss in detail the use of the first consultant to funnel bribes to the member of Parliament and the influence that the member of Parliament could exert over the Tarahan project. However, when Pomponi, Pierucci and others determined that the first consultant was not effectively bribing key officials at PLN, they allegedly retained a second consultant to accomplish that purpose. The charges allege that the power company deviated from its usual practice of paying consultants on a pro-rata basis in order to make a much larger up-front payment to the second consultant so that the consultant could “get the right influence.” An employee at the power company’s subsidiary in Indonesia sent an email to Pomponi, Pierucci and others asking them to finalize the consultancy agreement with the front-loaded payments but stated that in the meantime the employee would give his word to a high-level official at PLN, according to the charges.
The conspiracy to commit violations of the FCPA count carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a fine of the greater of $250,000 or twice the value gained or lost. The substantive FCPA counts each carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a fine of the greater of $100,000 or twice the value gained or lost. The conspiracy to commit money laundering count carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of the greater of $500,000 or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction. The substantive money laundering counts each carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of the greater of $500,000 or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction.
An indictment is merely an accusation, and defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Daniel S. Kahn of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney David E. Novick of the District of Connecticut. The case is being investigated by FBI agents who are part of the Washington Field Office’s dedicated FCPA squad, with assistance from the Meriden, Conn., Resident Agency of the FBI. Significant assistance was provided by the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs, and the department has also worked closely with its law enforcement counterparts in Indonesia at the Komisi Pemberantasan Korupsi (Corruption Eradication Commission) and deeply appreciates KPK’s assistance in this matter.
Additional information about the Justice Department’s FCPA enforcement efforts can be found at www.justice.gov/criminal/fraud/fcpa.