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FBI sting nets 22 executives charged with paying bribes abroad

The FBI undercover operation was the largest-ever effort to enforce the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The 22 executives ran companies that supplied militaries and law-enforcement agencies.

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Twenty-two executives at military and law-enforcement supply companies have been arrested in a sting operation by federal authorities. It is billed as the nation’s largest effort to enforce the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the Justice Department announced on Tuesday.

The business representatives were charged with attempting to pay bribes to win lucrative overseas contracts worth $15 million.

The defendants were snared in an undercover operation run by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in which two undercover agents posed as representatives of the ministry of defense of an unidentified African nation.

Under the alleged scheme, the supply company executives agreed to submit invoices inflated by 20 percent to cover agreed upon bribes and kickbacks that were to be paid to the middlemen and the minister of defense.

Rather than walk away from the business opportunity, the charged businessmen allegedly agreed to inflate their invoices and pay the kickbacks.

“This ongoing investigation is the first large-scale use of undercover law enforcement techniques to uncover FCPA violations and the largest action every undertaken by the Justice Department against individuals for FCPA violations,” said Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, who called the actions "a turning point."

How the sting worked

In all 16 separate indictments have been returned in the case. One of them charges Daniel Alvirez and Lee Allen Tolleson, president and director of acquisitions at a Bull Shoals, Ark., military-equipment supplier.

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