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4 Former BizJet Execs Charged With Foreign Bribery

Mon, 04/08/2013 - 8:01am
Chuck Bartels, AP Business Writer

Newly unsealed federal charges accuse four former executives of a U.S. subsidiary of German-based Lufthansa Technik AG of engaging in a bribery scheme to generate aircraft maintenance business in Latin America.

Two of the BizJet International Sales and Support Inc. executives accused pleaded guilty in January, and two others, who officials believe to be out of the country, have not been arrested yet.

The indictment, which followed an FBI investigation, accuses the former BizJet executives of bribing government officials in Brazil, Mexico and Panama to secure maintenance contracts.

BizJet cooperated with authorities and entered into a deferred prosecution agreement that had the company pay a penalty of $11.8 million. Prosecutors credited the company with making voluntary disclosures and providing "extraordinary cooperation."

A BizJet spokesman didn't immediately return phone messages or an emailed request for comment. The U.S. Justice Department announced after business hours on Friday that the case had been unsealed.

Former BizJet President and CEO Bernd Kowalewski and ex-sales manager Jald Jensen were indicted Jan. 5 for conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and conspiracy to launder money. They're also charged with violating the act and money laundering. The Justice Department said the men are believed to be abroad and had not been arrested.

Two former BizJet vice presidents, Peter DuBois and Neal Uhl, pleaded guilty Jan. 5 to bills of information in lieu of indictment. The guilty pleas were unsealed Friday, when the men were sentenced in federal court. DuBois pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and one count of violating the act. Uhl pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy to violate the corrupt practices act.

Both were sentenced to eight months of home detention each and probation. Prosecutors said DuBois could have been sentenced to up to 10 years in prison and Uhl faced five years in prison.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman said in a prepared statement that the executives "authorized and caused hundreds of thousands of dollars to be paid directly and indirectly to ranking military officials in various foreign countries."

Prosecutors allege the defendants paid bribes directly to foreign officials and, in some instances, moved bribe money through a shell company, Avionica International & Associates Inc., owned and operated by Jensen.

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