WASHINGTON—The Department of Justice has
filed a forfeiture action against accounts worth nearly $3 million that
are alleged to be the proceeds of a wide-ranging conspiracy to bribe
public officials in Bangladesh and their family members in connection
with various public work projects, Acting Assistant Attorney General
Matthew Friedrich of the Criminal Division announced today.
The forfeiture action was filed Jan. 8, 2009 , in U.S. District Court
in the District of Columbia against funds located in Singapore held by
multiple account holders. The forfeiture complaint relates primarily to
alleged bribes paid to Arafat "Koko" Rahman, the son of the former prime
minister of Bangladesh , in connection with public works projects
awarded by the government of Bangladesh to Siemens AG and China Harbor
Engineering Company. According to the forfeiture complaint, the majority
of funds in Koko’s account are traceable to bribes allegedly received
in connection with the China Harbor project, which was a project to
build a new mooring containment terminal at the port in Chittagong ,
"This action shows the lengths to which U.S. law enforcement will go
to recover the proceeds of foreign corruption, including acts of bribery
and money laundering," said Acting Assistant Attorney General Matthew
Friedrich. "Not only will the Department, for example, prosecute
companies and executives who violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act,
we will also use our forfeiture laws to recapture the illicit
facilitating payments often used in such schemes."
Siemens Aktiengesellschaft (Siemens AG), a German corporation, and
three of its subsidiaries pleaded guilty on Dec. 15, 2008 , to
violations of and charges related to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act
(FCPA). Specifically, Siemens Bangladesh admitted that from May 2001 to
August 2006, it caused corrupt payments of at least $5,319,839 to be
made through purported business consultants to various Bangladeshi
officials in exchange for favorable treatment during the bidding process
on a mobile telephone project. At least one payment to each of these
purported consultants was paid from a U.S. bank account.
According to the forfeiture complaint, the bribe payments from
Siemens AG and China Harbor Engineering Company were made in U.S.
dollars, and the illicit funds flowed through financial institutions in
the United States before they were deposited in accounts in Singapore ,
thereby subjecting them to U.S. jurisdiction. Money laundering laws in
the United States cover financial transactions that flow through the
United States involving proceeds of foreign offenses, including foreign
bribery and extortion.
In August 2006, the President announced a National Strategy to
Internationalize Efforts Against Kleptocracy to fight high-level
corruption around the world. This strategy combines the policy and law
enforcement tools of several federal agencies, including the Departments
of Justice, Treasury, State and Homeland Security.
The case is being prosecuted by Deputy Chief Linda Samuel and Trial
Attorney Frederick Reynolds of the Criminal Division’s Asset Forfeiture
and Money Laundering Section. Additional assistance was provided by the
Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs. The case was
investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office in cooperation with
Bangladeshi law enforcement.