Latin Node's former CEO jailed for $500,000 bribery

A former CEO of Latin Node, a telecommunications company in Florida, was sentenced to 46 months in prison under US anti-bribery laws on Wednesday.

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A former CEO of Latin Node, a telecommunications company in Florida, was sentenced to 46 months in prison under US anti-bribery laws on Wednesday.

Jorge Granados, 55, pleaded guilty on May 19 to a conspiracy to violate the anti-bribery provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) in connection with a scheme to pay Honduran officials more than $500,000 in bribes, the Department of Justice has announced.

After its acquisition of Latin Node, known as LatiNode, in 2007 and discovery of the improper payments, eLandia International, an information and communications technologies services provider in Florida, disclosed potential FCPA violations to the department.

In his guilty plea, Granados admitted to authorising bribes to be paid to officials in Honduras in return for business advantages from state-owned telecommunications company, Empresa HondureƱa de Telecomunicaciones (Hondutel).

LatiNode was the sole winner in December 2005 of an interconnection agreement with Hondutel, permitting it to use the Honduran company's telecommunications lines to establish a network between Honduras and the US and to provide long distance services between the two countries.

US District Judge Joan A Lenard for the Southern District of Florida also ordered Granados of Miami to serve two years of supervised release following the prison term.

The FCPA makes it unlawful for certain classes of persons and entities to make payments to foreign government officials to assist in obtaining or retaining business.

A number of technology companies have come under scrutiny for bribing people abroad to get business. US federal agencies are investigating whether Oracle violated federal anti-bribery laws in dealings abroad, The Wall Street Journal reported last month, citing people familiar with the matter. Oracle declined to comment on the report.

To date, four former senior executives of LatiNode have pleaded guilty to conspiring to pay bribes to the Honduran officials, the DOJ said. The other three executives are to be sentenced later this year.

Between September 2006 and June 2007, Granados and others caused more than $500,000 in bribes to be paid to the Honduran officials, according to court documents, concealing many of the payments by laundering the money through LatiNode's subsidiaries in Guatemala and to accounts in Honduras controlled by the Honduran government officials.

LatiNode pleaded guilty on April 7, 2009, to a one-count information charging the company with a criminal violation of the FCPA and agreed to pay a $2 million fine.

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