MIAMI - A private Miami corporation pleaded guilty today to violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) in connection with improper payments in Honduras and Yemen following a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) investigation.
At a hearing before U.S. District Judge Paul Courtney Huck in the Southern District of Florida, Latin Node, Inc. (Latinode) pleaded guilty to an information charging a criminal violation of the FCPA's anti-bribery provisions. As part of the plea agreement, Latinode agreed to pay a $2 million fine during a three-year period.
According to court documents, Latinode provided wholesale telecommunications services using Internet protocol technology countries throughout the world, including Honduras and Yemen. Latinode admitted that from approximately March 2004 through June 2007, it paid or caused to be paid approximately $1,099,889 in payments to third parties, knowing that some, or all of those funds, would be passed on as bribes to officials of Hondutel, the Honduran state-owned telecommunications company. Latinode admitted it made these payments in exchange for obtaining an interconnection agreement with Hondutel, as well as for reducing the rate per minute under the interconnection agreement. Court documents further revealed that each payment was made from Latinode's Miami bank account and approved by senior executives of Latinode. The payment recipients included, but were not limited to, a member of the evaluation committee responsible for awarding Hondutel interconnection agreements, the deputy general manager (who later became the general manager) of Hondutel and a senior attorney for Hondutel.
In addition, from approximately July 2005 to April 2006, court documents show that Latinode made 17 payments totaling approximately $1,150,654 either directly to Yemeni officials or to a third-party consultant with the knowledge that some or all of the money would be passed on to Yemeni officials in exchange for favorable interconnection rates in Yemen. Each of those payments was made from Latinode's Miami bank account. Company e-mails indicate that the intended payment recipients included the son of the Yemeni president, the vice president of operations at TeleYemen, the Yemeni government-owned telecommunications company, other officials of TeleYemen, and officials from the Yemeni Ministry of Telecommunications.
The resolution of the criminal investigation of Latinode reflects, in large part, the actions of Latinode's corporate parent, eLandia International Inc. (eLandia), in disclosing potential FCPA violations to the Department of Justice after eLandia's acquisition of Latinode and post-closing discovery of the improper payments.
The case is being prosecuted by trial attorney Lori A. Weinstein of the Department of Justice Criminal Division's Fraud Section.