Louis Berger International pays $17.1 million in bribe case

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Louis Berger International pays $17.1 million in bribe case

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Louis Berger International Inc., a New Jersey construction management company, will pay $17.1 million to resolve a U.S. bribery probe.
The Justice Department charged the company July 7 with conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and will drop the case in three years if a monitor endorses its remedial steps. In a deferred-prosecution agreement released Friday, the firm admitted it paid $3.9 million in bribes between 1998 and 2010 to officials in India, Indonesia, Vietnam and Kuwait.
Former executives Richard Hirsch and James McClung also pleaded guilty Friday in federal court in Trenton, New Jersey.
In 2010, a related company, Louis Berger Group, paid $69.3 million to defer prosecution of a criminal case related to overbilling for reconstruction contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan and other contracts.
Louis Berger is a partner in design and construction of the famous Dragon Bridge in Da Nang.
The Morristown, New Jersey-based company reported the bribes to the Justice Department and spent more than $25 million since 2010 on “new internal controls, new policies and procedures, and comprehensive systems investments, including a new global accounting system,” Louis Berger Chairman Nicholas Masucci said in a statement.
‘Final milestone’
“Today’s settlement is the critical final milestone in our reform, as it was important for us to take responsibility for the historic actions of former managers and close the chapter on the company’s pre-2010 era,” Masucci said.
An independent audit committee now oversees a compliance and ethics department, while employees can report suspect conduct through a global helpline, according to the statement.
“We are a much more efficient, responsible and transparent company today than we were five years ago,” Masucci said.
As part of the overbilling case, three former executives pleaded guilty, including Derish Wolff, the ex-chief executive officer. Wolff was sentenced in May to 12 months of home confinement. He was 79 at the time of his sentencing.
The FCPA bars corporate employees or their agents from paying bribes to government officials to obtain or retain business or to secure an improper advantage.
The case is U.S. v. Louis Berger International Inc., 15-mj-3624, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey (Newark).

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