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Four Bizjet execs indicted, two plead guilty

Four former executives of BizJet International Sales and Support Inc., the U.S.-based subsidiary of Lufthansa Technik AG, were charged in a criminal indictment unsealed Friday for their alleged participation in a scheme to pay bribes to government officials in Latin America.

Two of the executives pleaded guilty and were sentenced to probation and home detention. Two others remain outside the United States.

Bizjet provides aircraft maintenance, repair, and overhaul services.

Last year the Tulsa, Oklahoma-based company agreed to pay an $11.8 million criminal fine and enter into a three-year deferred prosecution agreement with the DOJ to resolve FCPA offenses in Latin America.

Lufthansa also entered into a three-year deferred prosecution with the DOJ.

Those charged Friday are Bernd Kowalewski, the former president and chief executive officer of BizJet, Jald Jensen, the former sales manager at BizJet, Peter DuBois, the former vice president of sales and marketing at BizJet, and Neal Uhl, the former vice president of finance at BizJet.

They allegedly paid bribes to officials employed by the Mexican Policia Federal Preventiva, the Mexican Coordinacion General de Transportes Aereos Presidenciales, the air fleet for the Gobierno del Estado de Sinaloa in Mexico, the air fleet for the Estado De Roraima in Brazil, and the Republica de Panama Autoridad Aeronautica Civil in exchange for help winning contracts for BizJet.

The indictments were filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma in January 2012 and unsealed Friday.

Kowalewski and Jensen were charged with conspiring to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and to launder money, as well as substantive charges of violating the FCPA and money laundering. Both are believed to be living outside the United States.

Two other defendants, DuBois and Uhl, pleaded guilty on January 5, 2012, to criminal informations, and their pleas were unsealed Friday in federal court. 

DuBois pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA and one count of violating the FCPA. 

Uhl pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA. 

Both defendants were sentenced Friday by U.S. District Judge Gregory K. Frizzell

They received probation and eight months home detention based on their cooperation, the DOJ said.

DuBois’ could have been sentenced to 108 to 120 months in prison and Uhl faced up to 60 months in prison.

The DOJ alleged the defendants 'paid bribes directly to foreign officials in Mexico, Panama and Brazil for assistance in securing contracts.' They also allegedly 'funneled bribes through a shell company owned and operated by Jensen.' 

'The shell company, Avionica International & Associates Inc.,' according to the DOJ, 'allegedly operated under the pretense of providing aircraft maintenance brokerage services but in reality laundered money related to BizJet’s bribery scheme.  Avionica was located at Jensen’s personal residence in Van Nuys, Calif., and Jensen was the only officer, director and employee.'

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