Former Alcatel employee pleads guilty to $2.5m bribery charge

A former Alcatel executive has pleaded guilty to paying more than $2.5m (£1.25m) in bribes to secure a telephone contract with Costa Rica's state telecommunications agency.

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A former Alcatel executive has pleaded guilty to paying more than $2.5m (£1.25m) in bribes to secure a telephone contract with Costa Rica's state telecommunications agency.

Christian Sapsizian pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy and violating
the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the US Department of Justice said. Sapsizian faces up to 10 years in prison and $580,000 (£290,000) in fines. He is due to be sentenced on 20 December.

Sapsizian admitted paying the bribes to a director at Costa Rica's Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad, in order to secure mobile telephone contracts for his company.

Alcatel was eventually awarded a $149m (£75m) mobile phone contract in August 2001, the Department of Justice said.

Sapsizian had been employed by Alcatel and its subsidiaries for more than
20 years. Alcatel merged with Lucent Technologies in late 2006 and the
joint company is now known as Alcatel-Lucent.

The FBI continues to investigate the matter, the Department of Justice said.

Alcatel-Lucent was not available for comment.

The company has had an eventful time quince its formation in December last year. In May a CD containing personal information about thousands of its employees and their dependants was lost or stolen.

The unencrypted disk, with names, addresses, social security numbers, dates of birth and salary information for US employees who worked for Lucent before its merger with Alcatel, was prepared by staff benefit scheme provider Hewitt Associates for delivery by United Parcel Service to another contractor, Aon.

And in February Alcatel-Lucent staff called for a strike to protest at plans to cut 12,500 jobs.

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