Former Bechtel Corp. vice president Asem Elgawhary has been sentenced to 42 months in federal prison for taking $5.2 million in kickbacks on electric-power contracts in Egypt from 1996 to 2011, the Dept. of Justice says.
Judge Deborah K. Chasanow imposed the sentence on March 23 in federal district court in Greenbelt, Md., and also directed Elgawhary to forfeit $5.2 million.
Elgawhary, 73, of Potomac, Md., pleaded guilty last Dec. 4 to mail fraud, conspiracy to launder money and interfering with federal internal revenue laws.
DOJ said Elgawhary, from 1996 to 2011, was general manager of Power Generation and Services Co. (PGESCo), a joint venture of Bechtel and Egyptian Electricity Holding Co., an electric-power company owned by the Egyptian government.
PGESCo helped Egyptian Electricity Holding Co. in soliciting bids and awarding contracts for power projects. Elgawhary admitted to taking money from three power companies that made the payments “to secure an unfair advantage in the bidding process,” DOJ said.
One of the companies was Alstom S.A., which, along with a Swiss subsidiary, pleaded guilty on Dec. 22 to violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by paying bribes to Elgawhary as well as to officials in other countries, such as Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and the Bahamas.
A court filing by the government identified the other two companies as a Japanese power company and a Kuwaiti power company.
According to DOJ, Elgawhary in his plea agreement also said he falsely certified to Bechtel officials and PGESCo board members that he had no knowledge about fraud at PGESCo. Further, he said he “made misrepresentations” to an attorney for Bechtel, DOJ added.
Charlene Wheeless, Bechtel principal vice president and global manager of corporate affairs, said in a statement: “The actions of this one individual are egregious and disheartening." She added, "Bechtel does not, and will not, tolerate unethical behavior."
David Schertler, a Washington, D.C.-based attorney for Elgawhary, in a statement said, "Dr. Elgawhary served for over 15 years as a tremendously successful and highly respected leader of PGESCo, and his work benefited both his employer and the country of Egypt. By pleading guilty, Dr. Elgawhary accepted responsibility for conduct that violated U.S. laws and the punishment that comes with accepting that responsibility."
Schertler added, "We believed, as did the Dept. of Justice, that this was an appropriate resolution to the case."