Broker Dealer Runs Afoul of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act

Handcuffs-KeyboardA former employee at broker-dealer Direct Access Partners was sentenced to two years in prison Tuesday for violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, his lawyer said. Direct Access Partners paid bribes to get business from a state-owned development bank in Venezuela, according to allegations by U.S. prosecutors. Mr. Clarke participated in the bribery, they alleged.

U.S. District Court Judge Denise Cote in New York turned down Tomas Alberto Clarke’s request for no prison time. Mr. Clarke argued he deserved leniency because of the quality of his cooperation, being the first defendant in the case to start working with the government. He had pleaded guilty to six changes under the FCPA, which bans bribery of foreign officials, and faced a potentially long prison sentence. Mr. Clarke received the same sentence as former Direct Access managing partner Ernesto Lujan, who also cooperated.

“Despite having fallen to temptation in the [state bank] bribery scheme, Tomas Clarke is a fundamentally good person. He hopes to put this behind him and move on with his life.  And we are sure he will never do anything like this again,” his defense counsel Henry Bell said. The company’s chief executive and a managing director each received four-year sentences in March for their roles in an alleged bribery scheme involving a state-development bank in Venezuela. Direct Access Partners declared bankruptcy in 2013.  Alleged bribe recipient Maria De Los Angeles Gonzalez De Hernandez is slated to be sentenced next month on money laundering charges. An alleged intermediary between Ms. Gonzalez and Direct Access, Jose Alejandro Hurtado, is scheduled to be sentenced next week as the major FCPA case draws to a close. The bribery conspiracy generated more than $60 million in revenue for Direct Access, according to government court filings.

“Each of the participants reaped enormous profits individually,” the government said in its sentencing document.