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Arrest In ABB Mexico Case

The Houston Chronicle reported the arrest Friday of a Mexican businesswoman on charges of violating the FCPA.

Angela Gomez, 55, is accused of serving as an intermediary between ABB and another U.S. firm for Nestor Moreno, chief of operations for Mexico’s Federal Electric Commission.

The report said prosecutors alleged that Moreno received a yacht, Ferrari, and perhaps millions of dollars in cash in exchange for awarding contracts. At her hearing Friday, an FBI agent testified that “Gomez’s signature was on a $297,000 check to Ferrari Beverly Hills, for a Spider sports car, as well payments totaling $1.8 million to the now-defunct South Shore Yacht Sales, in Chula Vista, Calif.”

Gomez and her husband own Global Financial Services, a Houston brokerage firm they allegedly used to pass some of the bribes to the Mexican official. She was arrested when she came to Houston to attend a civil arbitration hearing, the Chronicle report said. The paper said she appeared in federal court Friday in shackles and handcuffs.

In November 2009, the general manager of a Sugar Land, Texas-based ABB subsidiary was arrested for his alleged role in a conspiracy to bribe Mexican government officials. Prosecutors said the bribes were allegedly intended to secure contracts with Mexico’s Federal Electric Commission, known in Spanish as the CFE.

John Joseph O’Shea, 57, of Pleasanton, California, was charged with one count of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (18 U.S.C. § 371), 12 counts of violating the FCPA (15 U.S.C. § 78dd-2 et seq), four counts of international money laundering (18 U.S.C. § 1956), and one count of falsifying records in a federal investigation (18 U.S.C. § 1519).

O’Shea allegedly hired Fernando Maya Basurto, 47, of Mexico City, to act as the ABB Texas unit’s sales agent in Mexico. In December 1997, the CFE awarded the Texas business unit a contract, known as the SITRACEN contract, to upgrade the backbone of Mexico’s electrical network system. The SITRACEN contract generated more than $44 million dollars in revenue for ABB’s Texas unit. In October 2003, the CFE also awarded it a multi-year contract for maintenance and upgrades of the SITRACEN contract that generated more than $37 million in revenue.

ABB discovered the alleged bribery and fraud during an internal investigation. It self-disclosed the payments and related activities to the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission and helped with their investigations. In late 2008, the Swiss-based engineering company said it reserved about $850 million for possible resolution of U.S. and European corruption charges.

Basurto was first arrested in Dallas in April 2009 on a criminal complaint charging him with conspiracy to structure transactions and structuring transactions to evade currency reporting requirements. As part of his plea deal, the DOJ filed a superseding criminal information charging him with one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA, to launder money, and to falsify records. The information said jurisdiction over Basurto was based on his being “an agent of a domestic concern, as that term is defined in the FCPA, 15 U.S.C. § 78dd-2(h)(1).”

He pleaded guilty in November 2009 in Houston and has been cooperating in the investigation. He faces up to five years in prison. The Justice Department hasn’t announced his sentencing date.

Download the indictment in U.S. v. John Joseph O’Shea here.

Download Fernando Maya Basurto’s plea agreement with the Justice Department here.

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