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From Costa Rican Jail, Ex Alcatel Boss Supports ICE’s ‘Victim’ Claim

A Costa Rican citizen serving jail time there has said in a sworn statement filed in U.S. federal court that no one at the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad S.A. (ICE) knew about Alcatel’s bribery except those directly involved.

Edgar Valverde Acosta, 63, was Alcatel’s president in Costa Rica. In his sworn statement, Acosta said:

I am a citizen of Costa Rica and currently incarcerated and serving twelve months of preventive detention as a result of my recent conviction in criminal court in Costa Rica. My conviction was related to allegations of corruption in connection with the sale of products and services to [ICE] by Alcatel-Lucent S.A. . . . .

The DOJ indicted Acosta in June 2007. He has been an FCPA fugitive since then.

His May 31 declaration was filed by ICE, a Costa Rican state-owned enterprise trying to gain victim’s status and receive restitution under U.S. law. ICE intervened in the DOJ’s enforcement action against Alcatel-Lucent. Settlement of that case still needs final approval by a federal judge in Florida.

ICE’s petition is the first time a U.S. court has been asked to grant victim’s status to an overseas government-linked institution in an FCPA enforcement action.

The DOJ is opposing ICE, arguing it isn’t a victim. In a court filing last month the DOJ said, “The evidence gathered during the investigation suggests that corruption at ICE was pervasive in the tender process and occurred at the highest reaches of ICE.”

In his sworn statement, Acosta said in 2004 the Costa Rican press exposed Alcatel-Lucent’s corrupt payments. “Prior to that time,” he wrote, “no one at ICE, other than the individuals who were receiving the payments had knowledge of these matters, nor, do I believe, they could have known of these matters. . . . .”

In other court filings, ICE said only three of its directors and three other employees knew about Alcatel-Lucent’s bribery.

In September 2008, former Alcatel executive Christian Sapsizian, now 65, was sentenced to 30 months in prison, three years of supervised release, and forfeiture of $261,500 for bribing ICE employees. He pleaded guilty in June 2007 to two counts of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. He and Acosta were named in a joint superceding indictment.

Sapsizian admitted to conspiring with Acosta to arrange the bribes. He was released from prison in the U.S. on March 18 this year, according to federal records.

Alcatel-Lucent agreed with the DOJ and SEC in December last year to resolve FCPA-related charges by paying $137 million — $92 million for criminal charges with the DOJ and $45 million in disgorgement to the SEC. In addition to the bribery in Costa Rica, the company admitted making corrupt payments in Honduras, Malaysia, and Taiwan. The settlement isn’t final until it’s approved in federal court.

Download a copy of Edgar Valverde Acosta’s May 31, 2011 sworn statement here.

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