• Costa Rica Coffee Guide

Former Alcatel Executive Faces Charges in U.S.

December 8, 2006

One of the major players in the corruption scandals that swept Costa Rica in 2004 is facing charges in the United States for allegedly paying Costa Rican officials millions of dollars in bribes related to telecommunication contracts here.

Christian Sapsizian, 60, multinational telecom company Alcatel’s former senior vice-president for Latin America, was arrested Nov. 20 at MiamiInternationalAirport. He appeared Monday in Miami Federal Court, was freed the following day on $525,000 bail, and is scheduled for arraignment Dec. 18, U.S.-based BusinessWeek magazine reported.

His lawyer, Roy Kahn, told the magazine Sapsizian will plead not guilty, according to a story on www.businessweek.com.

A Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) affidavit states that Sapsizian offered kickbacks to an “unnamed senior official” within the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE), which oversees the country’s telecom sector, in 2000. The FBI has traced $2.4 million Alcatel paid that official, as well as $2.56 million to the official’s wife, Business Week reported.

In return, the official agreed to vote in favor of giving Alcatel a contract, according to the FBI. (Alcatel won a $149 million telecom contract with ICE in 2001.)

Alcatel – now Alcatel-Lucent, after buying New Jersey-based Lucent Technologies last month for $11.6 billion – announced this week that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is also investigating the payments the company made in foreign countries. A company statement released Tuesday indicated that Alcatel-Lucent will “cooperate fully in any inquiry or investigation into these matters.”

In Costa Rica, investigations into corruption allegations in the same case are ongoing, but have produced no public results in the more than two years since they began. In October 2004, former ICE board member José Antonio Lobo admitted he’d received payments from Alcatel; his wife, U.S. citizen Jean Gallup, allegedly received $2.4 million related to the Alcatel contract (TT, Oct. 8, 2004).

Lobo also testified that former Costa Rican President Miguel Angel Rodríguez (1998-2002), who had just taken office as Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), accepted 40% of the Alcatel-related kickbacks (TT, Oct. 8, 2004). Rodríguez stepped down from his OAS post soon after (TT, Oct. 15, 2004).

 

You may be interested

PAHO urges countries not to require coronavirus tests from travelers
Latin America
1529 views
Latin America
1529 views

PAHO urges countries not to require coronavirus tests from travelers

AFP - November 27, 2020

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) urged countries not to require coronavirus tests from travelers, saying they give a "false…

Eta and Iota left 200 dead, millions in financial losses across Central America
Costa Rica
72 views
Costa Rica
72 views

Eta and Iota left 200 dead, millions in financial losses across Central America

AFP - November 27, 2020

Hurricanes Eta and Iota, which hit Central America this month, left at least 200 confirmed dead and as many missing,…

Costa Rica offering all-expenses-paid vacations: How to enter
Costa Rica
18 views
Costa Rica
18 views

Costa Rica offering all-expenses-paid vacations: How to enter

Alejandro Zúñiga - November 26, 2020

Costa Rica is offering all-expenses-paid vacations for U.S. and Canadian residents who have found life’s essentials during what has been…