Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Former Alcatel executive pleads guilty in bribery case

(Cellular News) - A former executive with French telecoms equipment supplier Alcatel, now Alcatel-Lucent, has pleaded guilty to charges related to a bribery scandal with Costa Rica's state power and telecom group ICE, the US Department of Justice said in a statement.

Christian Sapsizian, 60, confessed that along with Costa Rica's former senior country officer for Alcatel, Edgar Valverde, they paid more than $2.5 million in bribes to a senior ICE official to receive a $149 million mobile infrastructure supply contract, awarded in 2001. Sapsizian was arrested in Miami.

In February charges were levied against Hernan Bravo, a former ICE board member, who allegedly received $800,000 to facilitate the contract's approval.

The payments were funneled through a consulting firm associated with Alcatel, the statement read.

Alcatel merged in November with Lucent Technologies to form Alcatel-Lucent.

Sapsizian faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and $330,000 in forfeiture. He will be sentenced in December of this year.

The investigation, which will continue with the cooperation of Sapsizian, involved both US and Costa Rican authorities.

ICE said in February that it would no longer work with Alcatel-Lucent.

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