New Jersey Real Estate Broker Pleads Guilty To Role In Foreign Bribery Scheme Involving $800 Million International Real Estate Deal
Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and John P. Cronan, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, announced that JOO HYUN BAHN, a/k/a “Dennis Bahn” (“BAHN”) pled guilty today to one count of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) and one count of violating the FCPA. BAHN pled guilty before U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos, and is scheduled to sentence BAHN on June 29, 2018.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said: “As he has now admitted, Joo Hyun Bahn schemed to bribe a foreign official to close an $800 million real estate deal for a skyscraper in Vietnam -- a deal that would have earned him a multimillion-dollar commission and much needed capital for his client, Keangnam Enterprises. As Bahn’s conviction demonstrates, federal law enforcement stands ready to root out commercial bribery wherever it is found.”
Acting Assistant Attorney General Cronan said: “Bribery and corruption undermine fair competition and the rule of law. The fact that Joo Hyun Bahn’s intended scheme was thwarted by the greed and deception of one of his codefendants does not change the fact that he sought to steer an $800 million real estate deal by paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes. The Department is committed to prosecuting those like Bahn who seek to corruptly tilt the playing field to their advantage.”
According to the allegations contained in the Indictment to which BAHN pled guilty, and statements made during the plea and other court proceedings:
Between February 2014 and May 2015, BAHN engaged in a scheme to pay bribes to a foreign official in a country in the Middle East in order to facilitate the sale of Landmark 72 in Hanoi, Vietnam, to the Middle Eastern country’s sovereign wealth fund. In particular, BAHN, his father Ban Ki Sang, and others agreed to pay $500,000 upfront to the foreign official, whom BAHN believed made decisions about the acquisition of assets for the Middle Eastern country’s sovereign wealth fund, in order to corruptly influence him to cause the sovereign wealth fund to purchase Landmark 72. In furtherance of the scheme, BAHN and Ban transferred $500,000 to an intermediary in New York, Malcolm Harris, which BAHN believed Harris would pass on to the foreign official. In related proceedings, Harris admitted that he double-crossed his codefendants, and simply stole the $500,000 bribe.
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BAHN, 39, of Tenafly, New Jersey, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA and one count of violating the FCPA, each of which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. The maximum potential sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.
On June 21, 2017, Harris pled guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of conducting monetary transactions in illicit funds. On October 5, 2017, Judge Ramos sentenced Harris to 42 months in prison.
The case against Ban, 70, of Seoul, South Korea, is still pending. Ban is presumed innocent unless convicted beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
Mr. Berman and Mr. Cronan praised the outstanding investigative work of the International Corruption Squad of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s New York Field Office. Mr. Berman also thanked the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs for its ongoing assistance in this investigation.
The case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit. Assistant United States Attorney Daniel S. Noble and Trial Attorney Dennis R. Kihm of the Fraud Section of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division are in charge of the prosecution.