U.S. abandons high-profile bribery sting prosecution

Reuters News
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Posted: Feb 21, 2012 9:33 AM
U.S. abandons high-profile bribery sting prosecution

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Obama administration on Tuesday threw in the towel on one of its biggest bribery cases in the military equipment business, which it had touted as part of its campaign to crack down on corruption, moving to dismiss charges against 16 defendants.

Twenty-two people were arrested in early 2010 on charges that they had tried to bribe a supposed African defense minister by padding their bids to supply military equipment to his country.

Instead, the minister was an FBI agent who was part of the first large-scale undercover operation of its kind seeking to root out corruption under the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which makes it illegal to try to bribe government officials.

U.S. prosecutors filed a motion to dismiss the case after two lengthy trials ended in mistrials and three defendants were acquitted. Three individuals have already pleaded guilty.

(Reporting By Jeremy Pelofsky; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick)