For those of you (and we know who we are) who came of age in the 1960s, you will remember ABC’s “Wide World of Sports” and its iconic opening of “Spanning the Globe to bring you the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat” (I still ache for that ski jumper). The scope of last week’s arrest of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) sting of the gun industry was truly “spanning the globe.”
From the arrest of 22 defendants to the scale of the undercover operation, the breadth and scope is unprecedented. While many details have not been released some information is coming out, with the identity of at least one of the FCPA sting operators having been released last week. As reported by Main Justice Richard Birdsong, a former vice president for international sales at Florida-based Armor Holdings, assisted the FBI in building the cases. Justice Department Criminal Division chief Lanny Breuer described the undercover operation as a “two-and-a-half-year operation”.
Equally broad in scope is the geographic reach of both the operation and the number of countries involved. As reported in the London Evening Standard on January 21, 2010, five British executives have been arrested after an undercover FBI operation into alleged attempted bribery of foreign government officials. Three of the British executives were named: Pankesh Patel, 43; David Painter, 56 and Lee Wares, 43. The remaining two British citizens have yet to be named but it was reported the information on their citizenship came out during last week’s court appearances. The City of London Overseas Anti-Corruption Unit was involved in executing seven search warrants in the UK on the day of the arrests.
As reported in the Jerusalem Post on January 23, 2010, four of the indicted individuals are known to be Israeli nationals. They are Ofer Paz, president and chief executive officer of Paz Logistics; Haim Geri, president of a Florida-based company that also serves as a sales agency. The remaining two Israeli citizens were identified as Israel Wissler and Yochanan Cohen. The January 19, 2010 edition of the Miami Herald even reported that one of the indicted defendants is from Peru, who has yet to be identified.
In addition to the variety of nationalities involved as defendants in this sting operation, the countries where search warrants were executed included the United States, the United Kingdom, and most probably the home countries of the Israeli and Peruvian defendants. As the sting claimed the bribes were for an African official and UN officials located in The Netherlands, in all likelihood some part of the sting operation occurred in Africa and in the Netherlands. For those of you counting that’s five of the Globe’s seven continents (that we are aware of—maybe Australia and Antarctica can join in as well), truly “spanning the globe”. With the Department of Justice announcing that it has 140 open overseas investigations, it will surely portend a greater FCPA global reach.
For a viewing of the opening to ABC’s Wide World of Sports go to YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wNqps7GN7CA&feature=related
This publication contains general information only and is based on the experiences and research of the author. The author is not, by means of this publication, rendering business, legal advice, or other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such legal advice or services, nor should it be used as a basis for any decision or action that may affect your business. Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business, you should consult a qualified legal advisor. The author, his affiliates, and related entities shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person or entity that relies on this publication.
© Thomas R. Fox, 2010