United States v. Richard Hirsch, 15-cr-00358-MLC (D.N.J. 2015).
James McClung; Louis Berger international, Inc.
According to the DOJ, between 1998 and 2010, Louis Berger engaged in multiple bribery schemes in Indonesia, Vietnam, India, and Kuwait. The DOJ also brought criminal charges against a Senior Vice President of Louis Berger.
Unnamed foreign officials in Indonesia and Vietnam.
Richard Hirsch, a U.S. citizen residing in the Philippines, was Senior Vice President, Asia of Louis Berger International, Inc. Louis Berger is a New Jersey-based, privately-held consulting firm that provides engineering, architecture, program, and construction management services.
According to court documents released by the DOJ, between 1998 and 2010, Louis Berger engaged in a scheme to bribe foreign officials in Indonesia, Vietnam, India, and Kuwait to secure contracts with government agencies and instrumentalities in violation of the FCPA. On July 17, 2015, the DOJ settled its case against Louis Berger through a deferred prosecution agreement, pursuant to which, Louis Berger agreed to pay a criminal fine of $17.1 million. The DOJ brought criminal charges against Hirsch for his alleged involvement in the bribery schemes in Indonesia and Vietnam.
According to the DOJ, Louis Berger used employees and agents to pay “commitment fees” and “counterpart per diems” in connection with contracts with the Indonesian government. The “fees” were allegedly bribes that, once wired to Louis Berger’s bank accounts in Indonesia or the accounts of Indonesian subcontractors (who provided no legitimate services), were diverted to Indonesian government officials.
The DOJ alleges that Hirsch organized and approved the bribes to Indonesian officials. Furthermore, following the initiation of investigations by both the company and the DOJ, the DOJ alleges that Hirsch attempted to prevent the discovery of the bribery scheme and refused to coorperate with investigators.
Court documents allege that Louis Berger utilized a “Foundation”, a non-governmental organization that the company established in Vietnam as the Louis Berger’s local sponsor to provide local labor and operational support, to funnel bribes to Vietnamese officials. The funding of the alleged bribes was generated by “donations” from Louis Berger to the “Foundation” or was masked by invoices from the “Foundation” which Louis Berger paid from its bank accounts in the United States. Once the “Foundation” received the funding, the money was withdrawn from a joint account and allegedly paid to Vietnamese officials by Louis Berger employees. The DOJ alleges in 2003, Hirsch approved of an $18,000 bribe to government officials in Vietnam.
According to a plea agreement between the DOJ and Hirsch, Hirsch agreed to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA and one substantive count of violating the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions. In July 2016, Hirsch was sentenced to two years of probation and fined $10,000.