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Guilty Plea In UK Bribe Case

The former director of sales and marketing for Pacific Consolidated Industries (PCI) admitted yesterday that he bribed an official from the U.K. Ministry of Defense (MOD) in return for equipment orders. Leo Winston Smith, 73, pleaded guilty in the U.S. federal district court for central California to conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (18 U.S.C. §371) and corruptly obstructing and impeding the due administration of the internal revenue laws (26 U.S.C. §7212(a)).

Smith, along with PCI’s former president and part owner, Martin Eric Self, 51, paid at least $70,000 in bribes to the MOD official. The money was funneled through a sham marketing agreement PCI created in 1999 with a relative of the official. In return, PCI was awarded MOD contracts worth around $11 million. Smith also admitted under-reporting income on his 2003 U.S. federal tax return and failing to file a 2003 corporate return for his Nevada company, Design Smith Inc.

Sentencing in Smith’s case is scheduled for December 18, 2009. He faces a maximum five years in prison on the FCPA conspiracy charge and three years on the tax charge, and a fine of about $255,000.

His co-conspirator, Martin Eric Self, pleaded guilty in May 2008 to violating the FCPA (here). Although Self faced up to five years in prison on each of two FCPA counts, his plea agreement contemplated a prison term of eight months. He was finally sentenced in November 2008 to two years probation. The MOD official, Michael Hale, pleaded guilty in the United Kingdom to accepting nine separate payments from PCI totaling more than $300,000. He was sentenced in April 2007 to two years in prison.

Privately-held PCI manufactures Air Separation Units (ASUs) and other equipment for the military, medical, and oil and gas markets. ASUs generate oxygen in remote, extreme, and confined locations. The Justice Department said that in late 2003, after the alleged illegal conduct occurred, a group of private investors bought California-based PCI. They referred the case to U.S. prosecutors and “fully cooperated in the government’s investigation.”

Download a copy of the DOJ’s September 3, 2009 release here.

Download a copy of the plea agreement in U.S. v. Leo Winston Smith (Case No.: CR 07-69(A) – AG) here.
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