Guilty Plea in PECC FCPA Case

10 February 2010 Publication

On February 10, 2010, the Department of Justice announced that John W. Warwick pleaded guilty to a one-count indictment charging him with conspiring to make corrupt payments to foreign government officials for the purpose of securing business for Ports Engineering Consultants Corporation (PECC) in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). Warwick, a Virginia resident, was indicted on December 15, 2009. PECC, a Panamanian company, was an affiliate of an engineering firm based in Virginia Beach. PECC was created so that Warwick, his co-conspirator Charles Jumet, who had previously pleaded guilty to similar charges (see http://fcpaenforcement.com/documents/document_detail.asp?ID=6613&PAGE=2), the engineering firm, and others could corruptly obtain certain maritime contracts from the Panamanian government.

The conspiracy involved payments to Panamanian government officials for awarding PECC a no-bid, 20-year contract to maintain lighthouses and buoys along Panama's waterways. By 2003, Warwick and his co-conspirators had paid more than $200,000 to the former administrator and deputy administrator of Panama's National Maritime Ports Authority and to a former, high-ranking elected executive official of the Republic of Panama.

Under the plea agreement, Warwick agreed to forfeit $331,000, which represents the proceeds from the illicit contract. At sentencing, scheduled for May 14, 2010, Warwick faces a maximum of five years in prison and a fine of the greater of $250,000 or twice the gain or loss.