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Record Sentence in Panama Canal Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Prosecution

April 21, 2010

Secret bribes to Panamanian officials in exchange for no-bid contracts to maintain lighthouses and buoys in the Panama canal have landed Charles Paul Edward Jumet in the record books and in prison. Jumet’s 87-month sentence handed down by U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson for the Eastern District of Virginia is the “longest prison term imposed against an individual for violating [the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA)]”, according to DoJ. The FCPA makes it a crime to offer any thing of value to a foreign government official in exchange for a contract with that government. Jumet’s co-conspirator, John Warrick, will be sentenced on May 14. Federal lawyers and investigative agents lined up to praise the stiff sentence as evidence of their strict stance on FCPA violators:

“Today’s sentence – the longest ever imposed for violating the FCPA – is an important milestone in our effort to deter foreign bribery,” said Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division, “As this case confirms, foreign corruption carries with it very serious penalties, which can include substantial prison time for individuals who violate the law.”

“Bribery isn’t just a cost of doing business overseas,” said U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride of the Eastern District of Virginia. “Today’s sentence makes clear that this is a serious crime that the U.S. government is intent on enforcing.”

“Today’s sentencing is an example of how those who intentionally bribe and mislead the government for their personal gain will be prosecuted to the maximum extent,” said Shawn Henry, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office. “The FBI is committed to pursuing those who disrupt the level playing field to which companies in the U.S. and around the world are entitled.”

“This sentence serves as a warning to those who engage in corrupt business dealings ,” said John P. Torres, Special Agent in Charge of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)’s Washington office. “ICE will continue to work with our law enforcement partners both here and abroad to investigate and prosecute those involved in such illicit activities .”

Violations of the FCPA can trigger civil False Claims Act liability if the foreign bribe and contract in question are tied to a services or supply contract with the United States.

To learn more about the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act or to report a False Claims Act violation, contact Frohsin & Barger.

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