San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

30 months in jail for French exec in Alcatel scandal

Christian Sapsizian, a French citizen and former executive of telecom Alcatel, was sentenced yesterday in the United States to 30 months in prison, the U.S. Department of Justice said.

The U.S. District Court of Florida in Miami also ordered Sapsizian to forfeit $261,000, to serve three years of supervised release and to pay a $200 special assessment, according to a DOP press release.

The Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE), the state-owned telecom authority, awarded Alcatel an almost $150 million mobile phone contract in August 2001. Sapsizian then an assistant to Alcatel´s Latin America vice president, appears to have had a behind-the-back hand in sealing the deal.

Sapsizian confessed to engaging in a $2.5 million bribery scheme started in 2000 to win ICE´s phone contract. He pleaded guilty to two counts of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and agreed to cooperate with law enforcement officials from the United States and abroad in the ongoing investigation.

He admitted to conspiring from February 2000 to September 2004 with Edgar Valverde Acosta, a Costa Rican citizen who was Alcatel´s senior Costa Rica representative, and others to bribe officials here.

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