The U.S. Justice Department dropped one of its most high-profile cases involving the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act on Tuesday – abandoning its effort against more than a dozen defendants ensnared by an undercover sting that ultimately failed to pass muster.
The case was touted by the Justice officials in 2010 as an example of the government’s get-tough approach on foreign bribery. It centered on defense companies accused of $1.5 million in bribes to an official from Gabon to win an arms contract. But of course, “what the participants didn’t know was that there was no deal – it was a ruse by federal agents,” the Washington Post reports.
Yet what at first seemed like a slam-dunk case fell apart thanks to mistakes during the sting and dubious behavior on the part of some of those running the sting. As the Post describes, “it turned out that the agents and their key informant — a former executive at a body armor company — never used the word ‘bribe’ or ‘kickback’ on tape; instead, they called the payment a ‘commission,’ a sufficiently vague term that was attacked by defense attorneys.”
To make matters worse, the informant already carried a conviction for bribery under the FCPA, and federal agents exchanged “racy messages” with the informant during the case, reportedly joking about “sex, cigars and who might play them in a movie based on the sting, among other things.” All that was enough to turn the slam-dunk into a losing game.
Two prominent Canadian cardiologists are facing disciplinary charges related to bribes they allegedly took in exchange for preferential services.
As the Montreal Gazette reports, one of the doctors is now trying to turn the blame on one of his patients, saying he was harassed by the patient after accepting money from him. But the Quebec College of Physicians is moving ahead with charges against André Pasternac and Mark Jeffery Eisenberg after a 14-month investigation.
That investigation was prompted by the newspaper’s earlier reporting on kickbacks doctors were getting from patients in the publicly-funded health system. “Bribes are an open secret, patients say,” the Gazette reports. “Envelopes stuffed with cash grease queue-jumping and guarantee priority access to publicly-funded health care.”
Sweep to Cardiologists: Threat followed bribe
If you’re a parent in Brownsville, Texas, you may be wondering just who was responsible for overseeing your children’s education after a blistering report Tuesday.
According to the Brownsville Herald, “systemic corruption at practically every level” was discovered during an audit of the Texas border town’s school system. The audit detailed numerous instances of waste, fraud and abuse that were so pervasive that auditors called for an immediate house cleaning, including firing top administrators.
The audit recommended “strong administrative action” for the district’s top official “with consideration up to termination” – and similarly called for the heads of both the district’s chief financial officer and its transportation administrator, the Herald reports.