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Tuesday
Mar242015

Former Bechtel exec jailed 42 months for taking Alstom bribes

A ex-Bechtel Corporation vice president was sentenced Monday to 42 months in prison for taking $5.2 million in kickbacks to rig bids for state-run power contracts in Egypt.

Asem Elgawhary, 73, of Potomac, Maryland pleaded guilty in December 2014 to mail fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, obstruction, and interference with the administration of the tax laws. 

Federal district judge Deborah K. Chasanow of Maryland also ordered Elgawhary to forfeit $5.2 million.

Elgawhary is a dual U.S. and Egyptian citizen. He was arrested when he flew into the United States in November 2013.

From 1996 to 2011, Elgawhary was assigned by Bechtel to be the general manager at Power Generation Engineering and Services Company, or PGESCo. It was a joint venture between Bechtel and Egypt’s state-owned and state-controlled electricity company, known as EEHC. 

California-based Bechtel provides engineering, construction, and project management services.

Bechtel helped PGESCo pick subcontractors by soliciting bids and awarding contracts. Elgawhary took a total of $5.2 million from three power companies to rig bids for the PGESCo contracts.

One of the power companies that bribed Elgawhary was Paris-based Alstom S.A.. In December last year, Alstom paid $772 million in criminal penalties to resolve FCPA offenses, including bribing Elgawhary in his role with PGESCo.

Elgawhary tried to hide payments from the three power companies by routing them through offshore bank accounts he controlled in Swtizerland and other countries, the DOJ said Monday.

He signed “Representation Letters” to Bechtel and members of the PGESCo board of directors. The letters falsely certified that he had "no knowledge or suspicion of any fraud at PGESCo, and that there were no possible violations of law or regulations that should have been considered for disclosure in PGESCo’s financial statements."

Elgawhary lied to lawyers for Bechtel when they interviewed him in April 2011. And he filed false tax returns that didn't include the kickback money or full information about his foreign bank accounts.

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Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.