Micronesian Government Official Pleads Guilty to Money Laundering Scheme Involving FCPA Violations
A Micronesian government official pleaded guilty yesterday to a money laundering charge involving bribes made to corruptly secure engineering and project management contracts from the government of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), announced Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Special Agent in Charge Sean Kaul of the FBI’s Honolulu Field Office.
Master Halbert, 44, a Micronesian citizen, pleaded guilty in Honolulu before U.S. District Judge Susan O. Mollway of the District of Hawaii to a one-count information charging him with conspiracy to commit money laundering. He is scheduled to be sentenced on July 29, 2019 by Judge Mollway.
According to his admissions at the plea hearing, Halbert was a government official in the FSM Department of Transportation, Communications and Infrastructure who administered FSM’s aviation programs, including the management of its airports. Halbert admitted that between 2006 and 2016, a Hawaii-based engineering and consulting company owned by Frank James Lyon paid bribes to FSM officials, including Halbert, to obtain and retain contracts with the FSM government valued at nearly $8 million, in violation of the FCPA. Lyon and Halbert agreed that these bribe payments would be transported from the United States to the FSM.
In a related matter, Lyon, 53, of Honolulu, Hawaii, pleaded guilty on Jan. 22 to a one-count information filed in the District of Hawaii charging him with conspiracy to violate the anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA and to commit federal program fraud. Lyon is scheduled to be sentenced on May 13.
Trial Attorney Katherine Raut of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section is prosecuting the case. The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs and the U.S. Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General provided significant assistance.
The Fraud Section is responsible for investigating and prosecuting all FCPA matters. Additional information about the department’s FCPA enforcement efforts can be found at www.justice.gov/criminal/fraud/fcpa.