22 January 2010 | Jake Kanter
The US Department of Justice has accused 22 arms supply personnel of bribery following a sting operation.
The executives and employees, including three Britons, were arrested this week after allegedly engaging in schemes to bribe government officials in an unspecified African country to win or retain arms contracts.
The arrests follow the largest single investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in connection with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).
The accused suppliers allegedly agreed to pay a 20 per cent commission to undercover FBI agents posing as African government officials, in return for part of a $15 million (£9.2 million) arms deal. The defendants were also accused of agreeing to participate in a “test deal”, to prove that the defence minister overseeing the contracts would personally receive a 10 per cent commission.
As part of the investigation, around 150 FBI agents completed 14 searches in the US, while the City of London Police searched seven locations in the UK in connection with the case.
Assistant attorney general Lanny Breuer said in a statement: "The fight to erase foreign bribery will not be won overnight, but these actions are a turning point. From now on, would-be FCPA violators should stop and ponder whether the person they are trying to bribe might really be a federal agent."