Mexico probes corruption case involving US company

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Associated Press

Posted on March 14, 2012 at 5:01 PM

Updated Wednesday, Mar 14 at 6:02 PM

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico is investigating allegations that a U.S. aviation company paid bribes to secure contracts to maintain government aircraft, authorities said Wednesday.

Mexico's Attorney General's Office said in a statement that it's investigating six officials from two federal agencies and two state governments for allegedly taking bribes from Oklahoma-based BizJet International Sales and Support Inc. in exchange of work contracts.

Federal prosecutors have located contracts for more than $20 million and others totaling 50 million pesos, about $3.9 million, awarded to the company after the officials received approximately $2 million in bribes.

The office gave no other details about the case but the U.S. Department of Justice said in a Wednesday statement BizJet has agreed to pay an $11.8 million fine to settle a corruption case that alleges its employees bribed government officials in Mexico and Panama to secure maintenance contracts.

The department said in a statement that BizJet also reached an agreement with authorities to defer prosecution for three years.

The Justic Department said that Bizjet employees between 2004 and 2010 paid bribes to officials at Mexico's Federal Police, the Mexican President's Fleet, the air fleets for the Mexican states of Sinaloa and Sonora and Panama's Civil Aviation Authority.

BizJet also agreed to cooperate with the department in ongoing investigations, to report periodically to the department about compliance efforts, and to continue to implement an enhanced compliance program and internal controls, the department said.

The company's lawyer, Jay Holtmeier, said in an email that BizJet's parent company, Lufthansa Technik, "discovered these issues as a result of an internal audit."

"The company promptly commissioned an internal investigation led by a U.S. law firm and U.S. accounting firm, voluntarily notified the DOJ, and fully cooperated with the DOJ's investigation," Holtmeier added.

He said the employees involved in the corruption case are no longer with the company.

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