Nastase was convicted of using a state construction agency to raise some $2.1 million in illegal contributions for his 2004 election campaign, in what came to be known as “The Quality Trophy” affair. Earlier in his career, the prime minister was accused of bribing the country’s money laundering czar to the tune of $400,000, to delete files concerning bank accounts in his wife’s name.
The former premier is going down fighting. Following sentencing, he declared his innocence, and announced plans to appeal.
He accused his successor as prime minister in 2004, Traian Basescu, of using the courts to persecute him. “The trial was a political one,” Nastase told reporters. “The winner is now taking revenge on the loser.”
In the latest in a string of setbacks for Justice Department officials who are stepping up enforcement of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, a jury in Washington has cleared two businessmen of charges that they were prepared to bribe officials in Gabon in an effort to win a military contract there.
R. Patrick Caldwell and John Godsey, two military suppliers, were nabbed in an FBI sting operation. Posing as officials from Gabon, the agents led the men to believe that they could win a $15 million contract to supply the West African country’s presidential guard. The condition? A $1.5 million bribe to the defense minister, and $3 million in overcharges on the contract for a “commission” to the president of Gabon.
Caldwell is a former deputy director of the U.S. Secret Service.
While the Justice Department has had major victories in cracking down on bribery overseas, collecting roughly $1 billion in penalties in 2010, Monday’s acquittal represents a third setback for the Justice Department in recent weeks.
Earlier, federal judges in Los Angeles and Houston overturned a conviction and dismissed charges against executives who were accused of violating the anti-bribery act. The judges cited prosecutorial errors and weaknesses in the government’s case.
On Monday morning, Joseph “Ray” Crosby, a former aide in Alabama state legislature, was to have faced trial in a federal corruption case in an Alabama courtroom. Sunday, he was found dead.
The trial would have been a second one for Crosby. Over the summer, he was tried on a raft of charges and cleared of all but one. Crosby was accused of having gone on the payroll of a casino owner at the same time he was drafting legislation favorable to the gambling industry.
Montgomery police would not disclose how Crosby died, but say his death is “under investigation.”