August 11, 2014 — The FCPA is an effective tool for preventing multinational corporations from unfairly positioning themselves abroad by making bribe payments to foreign government officials or their family members. To tackle the problem of foreign bribery, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 provides for substantive financial rewards to informants who blow the whistle on FCPA violations.
Bizjet Co-Conspirators Bribed Foreign Government Officials in Mexico and Panama to Win Repair and Maintenance Contracts Abroad
Bernd Kowalewski, the former President of BizJet International Sales and Support Inc., a U.S. subsidiary of Lufthansa Technik AG, has pleaded guilty to FCPA violations. The Justice Department had charged Kowalewski in connection with a foreign bribery scheme to make pay-offs to government officials in Mexico and Panama in return for their help in securing Bizjet contracts for repair and maintenance work abroad. Peter DuBois, Bizjet’s former Vice President of Sales, and Neal Uhl, the former Vice President of Finance, had already pleaded guilty to FCPA violations. Jald Jensen, a former Bizjet sales manager, has also been indicted on FCPA charges.
Kowalewski and the others bribed foreign officials directly and also channeled bribes through a shell business owned by Jensen, Avionica International & Associates Inc. Officials receiving Bizjet bribe money worked for:
- the Mexican Coordinacion General de Transportes Aereos Presidenciales,
- the Mexican Policia Federal Preventiva,
- the Republica de Panama Autoridad Aeronautica Civil, and
- other governmental entities.
The Bizjet co-conspirators referred to the bribe money as “incentives” or “commissions” paid to key decision-makers. At one point, the men discussed the importance of paying such “commissions” to directors of maintenance and chief pilots, even though the going rate had increased from between $3,000 and $5,000 to anywhere from $30,000 or $40,000.
In 2012, Bizjet agreed to pay $11.8 million to resolve the FCPA charges.
Whistleblowers Notify Government About Foreign Bribery Schemes
While Waters & Kraus is not handling this particular FCPA case, we are representing whistleblowers in similar matters involving foreign bribery violations. If you have similar claims against your employer or another business, contact us by email or call our qui tam attorneys at 855.784.0268 to learn more about our practice and how we can collaborate with the government to redress illegal foreign bribery schemes. Our experienced lawyers, such as Paul Lawrence in the firm’s Washington D.C. area office, are devoted to working to level the playing field in international business operations.