15 de junio de 2015 / 18:39 / en 2 años

Former PetroTiger co-CEO pleads guilty in bribery case

June 15 (Reuters) - A former co-chief executive of oil services company PetroTiger Ltd pleaded guilty in a U.S. court on Monday to conspiring to bribe a Colombia government official to get help in winning a contract.

In exchange for the plea from Joseph Sigelman, 43, the U.S. Department of Justice dropped several other charges, including money laundering and violating the federal Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), the main U.S. law against foreign bribery.

Sigelman entered his plea before U.S. District Judge Joseph Irenas in the federal court in Camden, New Jersey, ending a trial that began two weeks ago.

Under a plea agreement, the defendant may receive no more than a year in prison when he is sentenced on Tuesday.

William Burch, a lawyer for Sigelman, declined to comment. A spokesman for U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman had no immediate comment.

The prosecution of Sigelman, a former Goldman Sachs Group Inc banker who made millions of dollars in the outsourcing business in India, was one of the rare FCPA cases to go to trial.

It was also a test of the government's use of wires, often associated with organized crime prosecutions, to combat foreign bribery. Evidence included a December 2012 audio recording of Sigelman in his Miami penthouse.

Sigelman is the third former PetroTiger executive to plead guilty to reduced corruption charges, joining former co-Chief Executive Knut Hammarskjold and former general counsel Gregory Weisman.

Prosecutors had accused Sigelman of conspiring with Hammarskjold and Weisman to pay $333,500 to a former worker at Colombia's state-owned Ecopetrol SA in exchange for help in winning a roughly $39.6 million oil services contract.

Sigelman was also accused of seeking kickback payments while negotiating the purchase of another company on behalf of PetroTiger, a British Virgin Islands-based company.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the government's case against Sigelman suffered a setback after Weisman admitted under cross examination last Thursday to having given false testimony about demands that prosecutors had made of him.

Lawyers who have represented Weisman in the case did not immediately respond on Monday to requests for comment.

The case is U.S. v. Sigelman, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey, No. 14-cr-00263. (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Peter Galloway)

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