There have only been a few Foreign Corrupt Practices Act trials over the years, so Frederic Bourke’s is unusual to start with. What’s more, this case has plenty of special ingredients. Bourke, 63, is rich. He lives in the tony towns of Greenwich and Aspen. And he’s famous — or at least his name is famous. He co-founded the popular handbag brand Dooney & Bourke.
Prosecutors say he invested in a deal in Azerbaijan that he knew was tainted by bribery. He says he’s not a crook but a victim of fraud perpetrated by mastermind Viktor Kozeny. Now he’s facing what amounts to a life sentence in prison.
There’s Kozeny himself — a colorful and talkative fugitive. He’s accused not only of bribery but also of stealing more than $180 million from his investors, including $8 million from Bourke. His chair will be empty but Kozeny will still be the most important person at the trial.
And there are the government’s three “cooperating witnesses.” Thomas Farrell, a director of one of Kozeny’s companies, his Swiss lawyer Hans Bodmer, and Clayton Lewis, who steered $100 million of investment money his way. They’ve all pleaded guilty in related federal criminal cases and will be sentenced after they testify against Bourke — a sure-fire recipe for all sorts of mixed-motives and mischief at the trial.
So there’s no question about it. Frederic Bourke’s turn in Judge Shira Scheindlin’s courtroom will be the most watched FCPA trial ever.
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Setting the stage for the Monday kick off in Manhattan is Bloomberg’s David Glovin. His latest article about the case is another stunner. Among the revelations: the U.S. Attorney apparently has a tape “on which Bourke may have admitted he knew of wrongdoing by Kozeny.”
Glovin also revealed that Kozeny has won an order from a Bahamas judge requiring the government there to pay him $2 million. It’s to cover his legal fees for successfully challenging extradition. The U.S. wanted to bring back the Czech-born fugitive to face charges with Bourke. But the Bahamas court said the FCPA counts were not provable or prosecutable under local law. See our post here.
Here’s how Glovin’s story starts:
Viktor Kozeny, the central figure in an international bribery case over an Azerbaijan oil deal, plans to monitor the June 1 trial of Greenwich resident Frederic Bourke, one of his investors, from his Caribbean beachfront estate, 1,100 miles from the Manhattan courtroom.
Kozeny, the admitted ringleader of a plot to bribe leaders in Azerbaijan in the 1998 deal, won’t be in Manhattan federal court as prosecutors offer evidence against Bourke. Since 2005, when he and Bourke were indicted by the U.S. government, Kozeny has avoided extradition. Now he says he hopes the trial will clear his name. . .
U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin will preside over the trial, which will center on a failed deal involving the state-owned oil company of Azerbaijan. The republic, which borders the Caspian Sea, has 7 billion barrels of proved oil reserves . . .
Read David Glovin’s story here.
Read all posts about U.S. v. Kozeny and the prosecution of Frederic Bourke here.