The Long Arm of the FCPA: Former BizJet CEO Arrested in Amsterdam, Pleads Guilty in Oklahoma

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On July 24, 2014, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that Bernd Kowalewski, the former president and chief executive officer of BizJet International Sales and Support Inc. (“BizJet”), pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and one substantive count of violating the FCPA. Unlike his co-conspirators, who received significant reductions to their sentences for cooperating with the government’s investigation, and BizJet, which similarly received the benefit of a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) for voluntarily disclosing to and cooperating with the government, Kowalewski became a wanted man after being indicted under seal in 2012. He was arrested on a provisional arrest warrant in Amsterdam on March 13, 2014, and waived extradition to the U.S. this past June. A fourth defendant in the case, Jald Jensen, remains at large.

DOJ’s approach to prosecuting BizJet and its former executives serves as an example of both the kind of credit the government is willing to give to companies and individuals who provide meaningful cooperation and the lengths to which DOJ is willing to go to track, arrest, and extradite U.S. and foreign nationals abroad to face FCPA charges in the United States. Executives such as Kowalewski—international businesspeople who depend on their ability to travel—should not be lulled into a false sense security as a result of their status as foreign nationals or the fact that they live outside the United States, possibly in countries that do not extradite their own nationals. Indeed, in this case and a number of others, DOJ has filed charges under seal, lying in wait for fugitives to cross international borders.

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