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Virginia man sentenced to 87 months in prison for bribing foreign government officials

Longest prison sentence ever imposed related to Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) violations

WASHINGTON - Charles Paul Edward Jumet of Fluvanna County, Va., was sentenced today to 87 months in prison for paying bribes to former Panamanian government officials to secure maritime contracts, in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), and for making a false statement to federal agents, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the FBI.

"This sentence serves as a warning to those who engage in corrupt business dealings," said ICE Special Agent in Charge of the ICE Office of Investigations for Washington, D.C. and Virginia John P. Torres. "ICE will continue to work with our law enforcement partners both here and abroad to investigate and prosecute those involved in such illicit activities."

In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Court Judge Henry E. Hudson for the Eastern District of Virginia ordered Jumet to pay a $15,000 fine and to serve three years of supervised release following the prison term. The 87-month sentence is the longest prison term imposed against an individual for violating the FCPA.

Jumet, 53, pleaded guilty on Nov. 13, 2009, to conspiring to violate the FCPA and making a false statement to federal agents. The FCPA makes it a crime to pay or offer to pay anything of value to a foreign government official in order to obtain or retain business.

"Today's sentence - the longest ever imposed for violating the FCPA - is an important milestone in our effort to deter foreign bribery," said Assistant U.S. Attorney General Breuer. "As this case confirms, foreign corruption carries with it very serious penalties, which can include substantial prison time for individuals who violate the law."

"Bribery isn't just a cost of doing business overseas," said U.S. Attorney MacBride. "Today's sentence makes clear that this is a serious crime that the U.S. government is intent on enforcing."

"Today's sentencing is an example of how those who intentionally bribe and mislead the government for their personal gain will be prosecuted to the maximum extent," said Assistant Director Henry. "The FBI is committed to pursuing those who disrupt the level playing field to which companies in the U.S. and around the world are entitled."

According to court documents, from approximately 1997 through July 2003, Jumet and others conspired to pay money secretly to Panamanian government officials in exchange for awarding contracts to Ports Engineering Consultants Corporation (PECC) to maintain lighthouses and buoys along Panama's waterway. In December 1997, the Panamanian government awarded PECC a no-bid 20-year concession. Upon receipt of the concession, Jumet admitted that he and others authorized corrupt payments to be made to the Panamanian government officials. In total, Jumet and others caused corrupt payments of more than $200,000 to be paid to the former administrator and the former deputy administrator of the Panama Maritime Authority and to a former high-ranking elected executive official of the Republic of Panama.

Jumet also made a false statement to federal agents about a "dividend" check payable to the bearer in the amount of $18,000 that was endorsed and deposited into an account belonging to the high-ranking elected Panamanian government official. Jumet falsely claimed that this "dividend" check was a donation for the high-ranking elected official's re-election campaign, when, in fact, Jumet admitted it was given to the elected Panamanian government official as a corrupt payment for allowing PECC to receive the contract.

In a related case, John Warwick pleaded guilty on Feb. 13, 2010, for his role in the same conspiracy to violate the FCPA. He is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Hudson on May 14, 2010.

The case was investigated by the FBI's Washington Field Office, the FBI's Richmond Field Office and ICE's Richmond Field Office.