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Guilty Plea In (Old) Panama Bribes Case

A Virginia man pleaded guilty on Friday, November 13th to being part of an overseas bribery conspiracy that began in 1996 and ended in 2003. Charles Paul Edward Jumet, 53, was charged in federal court in Richmond, Virginia under a two-count criminal information. He admitted conspiring with others to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by making corrupt payments to government officials in Panama and giving a false statement to the FBI about how he paid some of the bribe money.

Jumet, an American citizen, was an officer of Ports Engineering Consultants Corporation (PECC), an affiliate of Virignia Beach-based Overman Associates. In December 1997, the Panamanian government awarded PECC a no-bid, 20-year contract to maintain lighthouses and buoys along Panama’s waterway. In exchange, Jumet and others authorized corrupt payments to Panamanian officials. By 2003, he and his co-conspirators had paid more than $200,000 to the former administrator and deputy administrator of Panama’s National Maritime Ports Authority and to a former, high-ranking elected official of Panama.

The bribery plot started in 1996 and was first uncovered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in 2004. The FBI later joined the investigation.

As in Frederic Bourke’s case, the DOJ charged Jumet not with a substantive FCPA offense but under the conspiracy statute, 18 U.S.C. § 371. For conspiracy, the statute of limitations can reach back to criminal behavior more than five years old if the conspiracy ended within the past five years. Here’s what the U.S. Attorneys Criminal Resource Manual says

Conspiracy is a continuing offense. For statutes such as 18 U.S.C. § 371, which require an overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy, the statute of limitations begins to run on the date of the last overt act. See Fiswick v. United States, 329 U.S. 211 (1946); United States v. Butler, 792 F.2d 1528 (11th Cir. 1986).

Jumet is scheduled to be sentenced February 12, 2010. The FCPA conspiracy count carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a fine of the greater of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the scheme. The false statement count carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

A copy of the DOJ’s November 13, 2009 release is here.

Download the November 10, 2009 criminal information in U.S. v. Charles Paul Edward Jumet  here.

Download the DOJ’s statement of facts here.

Download the plea agreement here.

Our thanks to Matthew Reinhard and Cody Worthington for helping us with this post.

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