Prosecutors in Colombia charged six current and former employees of the state-controlled oil company with taking bribes from services company PetroTiger Ltd.

Police made the arrests in a sweep in Bogotá, Bucaramanga, and other cities, the Wall Street Journal said.

The defendants are charged with taking $800,000 in bribes in exchange for giving PetroTiger contracts from Ecopetrol SA.

PetroTiger is a privately held British Virgin Islands company with operations in Colombia and offices in New Jersey.

It provides production testing services to oil and gas companies.

The U.S. charged PetroTiger’s former CEO, Joseph Sigelman, in May 2014 with bribing David Duran, an Ecopetrol official.

Duran was among those arrested in Colombia last week. He’s no longer working for Ecopetrol.

His wife, Johanna Navarro, was also arrested.

The DOJ said $333,500 in bribes to Duran were paid through a phony consulting contract between PetroTiger and Navarro.

In the U.S. prosecution, Sigelman has pleaded not guilty.

Gregory Weisman, PetroTiger’s former general counsel, pleaded guilty in November 2013 to one count of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and to commit wire fraud.

Knut Hammarskjold, who served as a co-CEO of PetroTiger, also pleaded guilty to the same charges.

Neither has been sentenced yet.

The FCPA outlaws bribes to foreign officials to win or keep work.

Ecopetrol, the biggest company in Colombia, told the Wall Street Journal the current executives have been suspended and the company is cooperating with Colombian prosecutors.

A U.S. federal indictment charged Sigelman with one count of conspiring to violate the FCPA and three counts of violating the FCPA.

He also faces charges for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering.

His trial is scheduled to start next month in Camden, New Jersey.

The Wall Street Journal said it reviewed a letter from the U.S. Justice Department to PetroTiger written in May 2014 saying the DOJ didn’t intend to prosecute the company.

“PetroTiger board members reported bribery allegations involving Mr. Sigelman to U.S. and Colombian authorities in 2011, according to people close to the company,” the WSJ said.

Lawyers in Colombia for David Duran and his wife have said their clients are innocent of the charges.

From the FCPA Blog New Service (c) 2015 All Rights Reserved


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