Twenty-one people arrested on federal bribery charges

Executives and employees of companies in the military and law enforcement products industry across the country were arrested Monday in Las Vegas and face federal charges of engaging in schemes to bribe foreign government officials to obtain and retain business, the U.S. Justice Department announced today.

Twenty-one defendants were arrested in Las Vegas and one in Miami in connection with an undercover FBI investigation. The Justice Department said the indictments unsealed today represent the largest investigation and prosecution of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits U.S. citizens and companies from bribing foreign officials for business purposes.

Approximately 150 agents served search warrants across the country, including in Arkansas, San Francisco, Georgia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Virginia, and numerous cities in Florida.

All of the executives and employees of the various companies charged were from outside Nevada. It was not immediately clear why the defendants were in Las Vegas.

The indictment alleges that the defendants “engaged in a scheme to pay bribes to the minister of defense for a country in Africa,” a Justice Department news release said. “In fact the scheme was part of the undercover operation, with no actual involvement from any minister of defense.”

As part of the undercover operation, the defendants allegedly agreed to pay a 20 percent “commission” to a sales agent who the defendants “believed represented the minister of defense for a country in Africa in order to win a portion of a $15 million deal to outfit the country’s presidential guard.”

The sales agent was actually an undercover FBI agent.

Additionally, City of London Police in Britain executed search warrants in connection with their own investigations into companies “involved in the foreign bribery conduct that formed the basis for the indictments.”

A court hearing in Las Vegas is scheduled this afternoon.

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