WASHINGTON - Charles Paul Edward Jumet of Fluvanna County, Va., pleaded guilty Friday in connection with his role in a conspiracy to pay bribes to Panamanian government officials to secure a maritime contract, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and other federal agencies.
Jumet, 53, pleaded guilty to a two-count information charging him with conspiring to make corrupt payments to foreign government officials for the purpose of securing business for Ports Engineering Consultants Corporation (PECC) in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA); and making a false statement.
PECC, a company incorporated under the laws of Panama, was affiliated with Overman Associates, an engineering firm based in Virginia Beach, Va. According to Jumet's plea, PECC was created so Jumet, Overman Associates and others could corruptly obtain a maritime contract from the Panamanian government.
According to court documents, Jumet was involved in a conspiracy to pay money secretly to Panamanian government officials for awarding PECC contracts to maintain lighthouses and buoys along Panama's waterway. In December 1997, the Panamanian government awarded PECC a no-bid, 20-year concession to perform these duties. In exchange for the concession, Jumet and others authorized corrupt payments to the Panamanian government officials.
In 2000, Panama's Comptroller General's Office suspended the contract while it investigated the government's decision to award PECC a contract without soliciting any bids from other firms. In 2003, the Panama government resumed making payments to PECC.
In connection with his guilty plea, Jumet admitted that from at least 1997 through approximately July 2003, he and others conspired to make corrupt payments totaling more than $200,000 to the former administrator and deputy administrator of Panama's National Maritime Ports Authority and to a former, high-ranking elected executive official of the Republic of Panama.
In his guilty plea, Jumet also admitted that he knowingly made a false statement to federal agents about a December 1997 "dividend" check payable to the bearer in the amount of $18,000, which was endorsed and deposited into an account belonging to the former, high-ranking elected executive official. Jumet admitted that he had falsely claimed that this "dividend" check was a donation for the high-ranking official's re-election campaign. Jumet also admitted that the "dividend" check was in fact given to the former official as a corrupt payment for allowing PECC to receive the contract from the Panamanian government.
As part of his plea agreement, Jumet has agreed to cooperate with the Department of Justice in its ongoing investigation. The conspiracy count carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a fine of the greater of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the scheme. The false statement count carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000. Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 12, 2010.
The case was investigated by the FBI's Washington Field Office, the FBI's Richmond Field Office and ICE's Office of Investigation, Richmond and Washington.