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Eric Carlson
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What Sentence Is Fair For Naaman?

When Ousama Naaman is sentenced — now scheduled for December 22 at 10:30 AM before Judge Ellen S. Huvelle in federal court in the District of Columbia — prosecutors will ask for a seven and half year prison term.

Naaman has said that if his bribery conspiracy was really as bad as the DOJ claimed, why weren’t others prosecuted? Why was he the only conspirator to face charges in the United States?

Naaman was Innospec’s former agent in Iraq. He pleaded guilty in June last year to one count of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and commit wire fraud, and one count of violating the FCPA.

After indicting Naaman, the DOJ handed off to the U.K. the prosecution of those who may have helped him bribe Iraqi officials. As of today, the U.K. Serious Fraud Office has charged three individuals in the case.

Naaman argued in a brief last month that the U.K. has a more lenient sentencing regime. Even if individuals charged there are more culpable then he is, Naaman said, they won’t face long prison terms.

Naaman told Judge Huvelle:

It is unclear what course the government expects the United Kingdom will take with the other co-conspirators. On the one hand, it says it will “defer prosecution” to a foreign sovereign, but — on the other hand — the government argues that there can be “no disparity” when the coconspirator has not been charged or sentenced. Obviously, if the co-conspirators are charged in the United Kingdom under a far more lenient sentencing regime than exists in the United States, this will produce a relevant sentencing disparity.

To support his argument, Naaman tracked sentences imposed on defendants convicted in other SFO prosecutions for oil-for-food bribery prosecutions.

The U.K.’s sentencing record, Naaman said, looks like this:

  •  Mark Jessop sentenced to 24-weeks imprisonment for engaging in 54 contracts worth more than $12.3 million with Iraq.
  •  Riad El-Taher paid $500,000 in bribes to Iraqi officials and was sentenced to 10-months imprisonment, which was later reduced to 8 months.
  •  Aftab Noor Al-Hassan sentenced to a suspended sentence or 16-months imprisonment for paying $1.6 million in bribes to Iraqi officials for oil contracts that profited him $4.4 million.
  •  Richard Forsyth sentenced to 21-months imprisonment, David Mabey sentenced to 8-months imprisonment and Richard Gledhill was given a suspended sentence of 8-months imprisonment for making illegal payments to Iraq of more than €420,000.

Last month, a reader talking about the Tesler case reminded us that multi-jurisdictional anti-bribery enforcement is complicated. The Naaman case proves his point. 

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