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Thursday, July 31 2014 @ 07:26 AM EDT

US Executive Given 7-Year Sentence For Bribing Panamanians

Foreign Direct Investment(Dow Jones Newswires) The U.S. Justice Department said Monday that a Virginia resident who pleaded guilty to bribing Panamanian government officials will receive the longest-ever prison sentence for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Charles Paul Edward Jumet, 53, of Fluvanna County, Va., received an 87-month prison sentence for paying bribes to secure maritime contracts in Panama, a violation of the FCPA, and for making false statements to federal agents. He pleaded guilty in November. "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 Breuer in a statement. "As this case confirms, foreign corruption carries with it very serious penalties, which can include substantial prison time for individuals who violate the law." The Justice Department statement cites court documents that say Jumet and others conspired to pay more than $200,000 to Panamanian government officials over the course of six years in exchange for awarding contracts to Ports Engineering Consultants Corp., or PECC, to maintain lighthouses and buoys along Panama's waterway. PECC received a no-bid, 20-year contract for the work, and Jumet and others authorized the bribes after the company received the concession, according to the statement. The money was paid to the former administrator and the former deputy administrator of the Panama Maritime Authority and to a former highranking elected executive official of the Republic of Panama. The FCPA bans bribes of foreign government officials by companies listed in the U.S.

Editor's Comment: And what happened to the Panamanian government officials who received those bribes? Not a damn thing. During the last several administrations, starting with Ernesto Perez Balladares, and then continuing with Mireya Moscoso and then Martin Torrijos in Panama, it became standard business practice to expect payments of hefty bribes if you ever wanted to get any kind of work from the Panamanian government. There are many "well known secrets" in Panama - meaning, facts of life that everyone knows about but for some unknown reason no one is willing to talk about. Ernesto Perez Balladares "privatized" much of the Panamanian government during his term in office, and this contract given to (bought by) PECC is a prime example. Prior to this, the Panamanian government was responsible for maintaining the buoys. But with a government contract, bribes, and kickbacks, government officials could farm out the work, collect the payments, and basically use these companies to in effect launder their theft of millions of dollars of government funds and tax dollars. The Panamanian Supreme Court recently ordered the reopening of an investigation into the mishandling of some $40 million dollars handed to the administration of Mireya Moscoso by the government of Taiwan. Of course, Mireya Moscoso's administration ended in 2004, so she was protected with immunity until 2009 by her position on the Central American Parliament (Parlacen). Right now, today, Martin Torrijos enjoys that same protection, or at least he will until Panama pulls out of the Parlacen in November 2010. This one case and the convictions and sentencing of these two US business executives highlights why it simply does not make any sense to pay bribes to Panamanian government officials if you are a US citizen. Why not? Because if one guy decides to drop a dime, then all of a sudden you can find yourself in prison. What about business executives for publicly owned companies, who have stock being traded on exchanges around the world? Think any of those guys paid any bribes in Panama in the past 20 years? Hopefully Ricardo Martinelli is working to put all of that squarely into Panama's past. A commonly heard expression here is that "all politicians are the same." Let's hope this one proves that to be wrong. In the meantime, I still don't understand how and why Panamanians can "square" in their own brains letting the government officials who received these bribes walk, while the executives from the company who paid them go to jail. I mean, is there no national shame in Panama? Aren't they embarrassed? Does anyone care, at all? The message seems to be "our country has always been run by crooks - we know about it, and we really don't care all that much."

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US Executive Given 7-Year Sentence For Bribing Panamanians | 1 comments | Create New Account
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US Executive Given 7-Year Sentence For Bribing Panamanians
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, April 20 2010 @ 10:26 AM EDT

Excellent Editor's Comments. All involved must pay the penalty for their criminal activites.