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Pennsylvania consultant pleads guilty to FCPA offenses for bribing banker

The former owner and president of a Pennsylvania consulting business pleaded guilty Wednesday to violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices by bribing an official at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

Dmitrij Harder, 42, a Russian national living in Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty to two counts of violating the FCPA.

Harder owned Chestnut Consulting Group Inc.

He's a U.S. legal permanent resident. 

He appeared before Judge Paul Diamond in federal court in Philadelphia. 

Sentencing is set for July 21. Harder faces up to ten years in prison.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development or EBRD is headquartered in London. It started operating in in 1991. It's owned by 65 countries and helps fund projects in Eastern Europe, Turkey, Greece, and North Africa, among others.

Between 2007 and 2009, Harder paid about $3.5 million in bribes to an EBRD official.

The EBRD then approved applications for financing from two of Chestnut's corporate clients.

The first resulted in the EBRD providing an $85 million investment and a €90 million ($101.7 million) loan. The second EBRD award led to a $40 million investment and a $60 million convertible loan. 

The Chestnut Group earned about $8 million in “success fees” from the EBRD’s approval of the two applications.  

A federal grand jury in Philadelphia indicted Harder in January 2015. He was charged with one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA and Travel Act, five counts of violating the FCPA, five counts of violating the Travel Act, one count of conspiracy to commit international money laundering, and two counts of money laundering.

In the FCPA, the term “foreign official” means any officer or employee of a foreign government or any department, agency, or instrumentality thereof, or of a public international organization . . . " (15 U.S.C. § 78dd-2(h)(2)(A))

The DOJ said the EBRD was a public international organization. Harder argued the point in court but lost a motion to dismiss. 

In 2012, the UK Crown Prosecution Service charged the EBRD official, Andrey Ryjenko, and his sister, Tatjana Sanderson.

A status conference in the UK case is set for June 8.

The DOJ said Wednesday it had help in the case from the City of London Police and from authorities in Germany, Jersey, and Guernsey.


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