Defense Wants Information on Informant in Dramatic FCPA White-Collar Sting Case


January 2010 saw the dramatic arrests of 22 individuals in the military and law enforcement equipment industry – in several companies and at various levels of responsibility – for alleged Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violations involving payments to an alleged sales agent for an unnamed African nation, later identified as Gabon. The arrests took place at a gun show in Las Vegas.

The arrests, in a case that has been dubbed “the Shot Show Takedown,” the “Nevada Sting,” and the “Africa Sting,” were the result of an elaborate 2 ½- year undercover operation in which white collar prosecutors used methods such as wiretaps and undercover agents – tactics usually associated with large-scale narcotics investigations – in an FCPA case. The FBI recorded over 5,000 phone calls and literally every meeting between defendants and the undercover agents. The case represents the largest single foreign bribery investigation and prosecution brought against individuals.

In June, U.S. District Judge Richard Leon in the District of Columbia heard oral arguments on defense motions to compel discovery and for a bill of particulars from the prosecution, which would specify the exact charges against the defendants. Defendants want information pertaining to government informant Richard Bistrong, including his tax returns, as well as internal DOJ-FBI communications about his handling, any export licenses he had been given by the federal government, and other matters.

A ruling is expected any day on defendants’ motion. After a contentious hearing, Leon said he hoped to make rulings by the end of July. Defendants have reason to be hopeful; Leon appeared surprised at the Government’s admission that it had not even seen Bistrong’s tax returns.

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