May 10, 2011
Two executives with a California maker of emergency electricity towers were found guilty of paying bribes including a Ferrari to officials at a Mexican state-owned utility to obtain orders.
The jury returned guilty verdicts today on all counts of conspiracy and violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act against Keith Lindsey, 66, the president of closely held Lindsey Manufacturing Co., and Steve Lee, 60, the company's chief financial officer, said Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. in Los Angeles.
Prosecutors argued during the trial that the two men knew that a 30 percent sales commission they paid Enrique Aguilar, a Mexican representative, was used to cover more than $5 million in bribes to the officials at Comission Federal de Electricidad. Lindsey Manufacturing, based in Azusa, California, retained Aguilar in 2002 after repeatedly failing to legitimately win contracts in previous years, prosecutors said.
"Lindsey Manufacturing is the first company to be tried and convicted on FCPA violations, but it will not be the last," Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer said in a statement. "Foreign corruption undermines the rule of law, stifling competition and the health of international markets and American businesses."
Jan Handzlik, a lawyer representing Lindsey and the company, which was also a defendant, didn't immediately return a call to his office.
Aguilar, 56, a Mexican citizen who was also indicted, is a fugitive and wasn't present at the trial. His wife, Angela Aguilar, 56, was arrested last year in Houston and convicted of one count of conspiracy to launder money. U.S. District Judge Howard Matz acquitted her of one count of money laundering yesterday while the jury was deliberating, her lawyer, Stephen Larson, said.
Larson said today in a phone interview that he will file a request with the judge to acquit her of the conspiracy count as well.
Lindsey and Lee face as long as five years in prison for the conspiracy to bribe count and for each of the five counts of bribing a foreign official. Aguilar faces as long as 20 years in prison for the money-laundering conspiracy conviction, according to the Justice Department's statement.
The case is U.S. v. Aguilar, 10-1031, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).