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Aruba telecomms official jailed three years for laundering bribe money

A federal judge in Miami sent an official of Aruba’s state-owned telecomms company to prison for three years for moving bribe money from Florida to Aruba and Panama.

Egbert Yvan Ferdinand Koolman, 49, a Dutch citizen living in Miami, was also ordered pay $1.3 million in restitution. 

He took bribes when he worked for state-owned Servicio di Telecommunicacion di Aruba N.V. (Setar). 

The bribery stretched from 2005 and 2016, while Koolman worked as Setar’s product manager, the DOJ said Wednesday.

Koolman pleaded guilty on April 13 to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.  

In April, a Florida businessman was jailed for bribing Koolman.

Lawrence W. Parker Jr., 42, was sentenced to 35 months in prison for conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Parker owned or controlled five Florida-based telecommunications companies. His companies won almost $24 million in mobile-phone orders from Setar.

Parker was charged in December last year with conspiracy to violate the FCPA and commit wire fraud. He pleaded guilty on December 28.

Prosecutors asked for a sentence reduction (pdf) based on Parker’s cooperation.

In Wednesday’s plea deal, Koolman admitted that he conspired with Parker to launder money connected to FCPA violations.

Koolman took more than $1.3 million in bribes.

“He received the corrupt payments via wire transfer from banks located in the United States, in cash during meetings in Miami and in Aruba, and by withdrawing cash in Aruba using a bank card that drew money from a U.S.-based bank account,” the DOJ said.

Koolman also provided “favored vendors” with Setar’s confidential information, the DOJ said.

Foreign officials who take bribes can’t be prosecuted under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which only covers bribe payers. The DOJ instead typically charges bribe-taking officials with money laundering or related crimes.

Money laundering and money-laundering conspiracies are punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

FCPA-related offenses are punishable by up to five years in prison.

According to the Miami Herald, Koolman was exposed in 2016 when the Panama Papers revealed his ownership of several offshore companies.

Setar fired him after the Panama Papers revelations.

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Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog.

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