Former Alstom Executive Asks Judge to Throw Out Foreign Bribery Charges
By Dylan Tokar
NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- A federal court is facing a raft of thorny
legal questions -- including what it should tell jurors about the
definition of a key word in the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act
-- on the eve of the trial of a former Alstom SA executive.
Lawyers for Lawrence Hoskins, a former Alstom senior vice
president, this week asked a judge to dismiss charges against their
client over delays that they say have violated his constitutional
right to a speedy trial. Mr. Hoskins, who was arrested in 2014, is
charged with helping organize a scheme to bribe Indonesian
government officials to win a $118 million power contract for
The latest round of pretrial motions in the case -- one of the
longest-running FCPA cases currently being litigated --
demonstrates the obstacles prosecutors face in bringing charges of
bribery that occurred outside the U.S., as well as the obstacles
faced by executives in defending themselves against those
Mr. Hoskins, a British national who worked for Alstom in a Paris
suburb for less than three years, has made his tenuous links to the
U.S. central to his defense. He says he never set foot in the U.S.
while at Alstom, which has its headquarters in France.
"Mr. Hoskins is living proof of the significant challenges faced
by foreign nationals defending charges in the United States that
are premised on old, extraterritorial conduct," Chris Morvillo, a
lawyer representing Mr. Hoskins, said at a pretrial hearing
The case is being heard in the U.S. District Court in
Connecticut, where an Alstom subsidiary was based. Alstom agreed to
pay $772 million in 2014 to resolve the Justice Department probe.
Mr. Hoskins's trial is scheduled to begin Sept. 3.
The case has garnered interest from companies and lawyers
because it has brought the Justice Department's interpretation of
U.S. foreign bribery law under judicial scrutiny. It also has given
rise to a landmark legal ruling that set limits on who prosecutors
can charge with conspiring to violate the law, as opposed to
violating it directly.
As a result of that ruling, the case against Mr. Hoskins rests
on the Justice Department's ability to prove at trial that he was
an agent of Alstom's U.S. subsidiary.
The U.S. foreign bribery law doesn't define what an agent is.
Like many other aspects of the bribery law, the definition has been
largely unaddressed by courts.
Prosecutors and lawyers for Mr. Hoskins have agreed to use a
common legal definition of agent, which requires an agreement
whereby the agent acts under the control of a principal. But they
continue to disagree on exactly what jurors should be told about
the nature of the control that is required for someone to be an
Mr. Hoskins's defense team is expected to argue at trial that
since the executive worked for Alstom's parent company, the
Connecticut subsidiary that secured the contract in Indonesia was
his agent -- not the other way around.
The four-hour hearing on Wednesday also focused on
constitutional questions over the amount of time that has passed
since Mr. Hoskins was arrested, and the impact the delays might
have on his ability to defend himself at trial.
Mr. Hoskins took part in the Indonesian bribery scheme between
2002 and 2004, according to prosecutors. The amount of time that
has passed since the alleged misconduct has made it difficult for
the former executive to recall the events, Mr. Hoskins's lawyers
wrote in a surprise brief last month.
The delays have also affected the case's witnesses, Mr. Morvillo
said. One witness, a former vice president at Alstom's
Connecticut-based subsidiary, died after pleading guilty in 2014.
Another returned to France after two years in prison in the U.S.
and is unlikely to return to testify at Mr. Hoskins's trial,
according to prosecutors.
Prosecutors said the absence of the two witnesses worked in Mr.
Hoskins's favor, since both had cut deals with the government and
given testimony implicating him in the bribery scheme. "It's hard
to see how this hurts anyone other than the government," Daniel
Kahn, an official with the department's criminal fraud section,
The case also has stalled because of the difficulty faced by Mr.
Hoskins in gathering evidence he says is critical for his
The Justice Department says it has turned over more than one
million pages of documents related to the Alstom project in
Indonesia. But Mr. Hoskins has continued to ask prosecutors to use
a term in their settlement agreement with Alstom to search for
Mr. Kahn said Wednesday that Mr. Hoskins's requests for more
documents undercut the claim that his constitutional rights had
"He has benefited from this delay," Mr. Kahn said.
Write to Dylan Tokar at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
August 09, 2019 19:06 ET (23:06 GMT)
Copyright (c) 2019 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Graphique Historique de l'Action
De Juil 2020 à Août 2020
Graphique Historique de l'Action
De Août 2019 à Août 2020