Former Executive at Florida Engineering Firm Charged with FCPA Violations

February 20, 2015 — The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) is a powerful weapon to stop corporations from attempting to win or retain business abroad by making bribe payments to or bestowing lavish gifts on foreign government officials or their family members. Since the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 instituted a whistleblower program, anyone can collaborate with the government by notifying the Justice Department or the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) about foreign bribery operations. Dodd-Frank allows for substantial financial rewards to insider informants who blow the whistle on FCPA violations.

Tampa Construction and Engineering Firm Agrees to Pay $3.4 Million to Resolve Attempted Bribery Scam in Qatar

A former officer of a Florida construction and engineering firm has been charged with FCPA violations in connection with an agreement to pay bribes to foreign officials in Qatar in exchange for valuable Qatari government contracts. The PBSJ Corporation (PBSJ) has entered into a deferred prosecution agreement in connection with the attempted foreign bribery scam.
In 2009, Walid Hatoum reportedly agreed to channel funds to a local Qatari company that a foreign official owned and operated. PBSJ was hoping to secure two Qatari government contracts worth millions of dollars. After Hatoum offered almost $1.4 million in bribes, the foreign official gave PBSJ’s international subsidiary access to confidential information that the subsidiary used to make successful bids for work on a light rail project in Qatar and a resort hotel project in Morocco.
When the foreign bribery operation was uncovered, PBSJ self-reported the FCPA violations to the SEC. But PBSJ would have discovered the violations sooner had it not ignored several serious warning signs.
After the FCPA violations began to become apparent, PBSJ lost the contract for work on the resort hotel. But PBSJ did make $2.9 million in illicit profits on the light rail project in Qatar because it kept working on the project even after the thwarted bribery scheme was revealed.
To settle the violations, PBSJ will pay more than $3 million in disgorgement and interest as well as a $375,000 penalty.

Contact Us to Notify Government about FCPA Violations

While Waters & Kraus is not handling this particular FCPA case, we are representing whistleblowers in similar matters involving foreign bribery violations. If you have comparable claims against your employer or another business, contact us by email or call our qui tam attorneys at 800.226.9880 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 George Tankard and Anne Izzo, qui tam lawyers in the firm’s Maryland office, are working to level the playing field in international business operations.

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