San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

British Man Jailed for Bribing Costa Rican Officials

A former insurance executive was sentenced to 21 months in prison Tuesday after pleading guilty to transferring nearly $2 million in bribes to Costa Rica.

According to testimony, Julian Messent, a former CEO of reinsurance broker London-based PWS International, deposited the money into the bank accounts of the wives and affiliates of employees at Costa Rica’s National Insurance Agency (INS) and the Costa Rican Electricity Institute.     

A series of 41 payments were made between February 1999 and June 2002 in order to retain contracts with the state monopolies.

According to the Serious Fraud Office, a British government agency that investigates cases involving more that £1 million, the money was transferred to Roxana Cordero, the wife of Alvaro Acuna, an agent of INS, and Reska Financial Inc, a company affiliated with INS agent Cristobal Zawadski, among others.

Investigations in England began in August of 2006, and the case was prosecuted by the SFO in 2010.

In England’s Southwark Crown Court, Messent was ordered to pay $160,000 in damages to the Costa Rican government within 28 days or serve an additional 12 months.

Court proceedings against those accused of accepting the bribes are ongoing in Costa Rica. Authorities have yet to schedule a date for trial.

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