Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Former telecom exec charged with bribery in Costa Rica

The FBI has traced $2.4 million payments from Alcatel to a senior ICE official in Costa Rica and $2.56 million to the official's wife.

MIAMI (AP) - A former top executive for the Latin American business of the French telecommunications giant Alcatel-Lucent faces U.S. corruption charges for allegedly funneling millions of dollars in bribes to Costa Rican officials to win lucrative contracts.

Christian Sapsizian, a 60-year-old French citizen who was a senior vice president for Latin America for Alcatel-Lucent, was free Tuesday on $525,000 bail after making his initial appearance Monday in federal court. Sapsizian is scheduled for arraignment Dec. 18 on a charge of making corrupt payments to a foreign official.

According to an FBI affidavit, Sapsizian agreed in 2000 to make payments to an unnamed senior official with Costa Rica's state-owned telecommunications authority, the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad, or ICE.

In return, the official would "vote in favor of awarding Alcatel a contract'' and provide other valuable assistance, according to the FBI.

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