The former co-chief executive officer (CEO) of PetroTiger Ltd. – a British Virgin Islands oil and gas company with operations in Colombia and formerly with an office in New Jersey – pleaded guilty today to conspiring to pay bribes to a foreign government official in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).
Joseph Sigelman, 43, of Miami and the Philippines, pleaded guilty today in the District of New Jersey to Count One of a superseding indictment charging him with conspiracy to violate the FCPA. His trial had commenced on June 1, 2015. Sigelman will be sentenced June 16, 2015.
At his plea hearing, Sigelman admitted to conspiring with co-CEO Knut Hammarskjold, PetroTiger’s former general counsel Gregory Weisman, and others to make illegal payments of $333,500 to David Duran, an employee of the Colombian national oil company, Ecopetrol. Sigelman admitted to making the payments in exchange for Duran’s assistance in securing a $45 million oil services contract for PetroTiger.
Sigelman is the third former PetroTiger executive to plead guilty in the case. On Nov. 8, 2013, Weisman pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the FCPA and to commit wire fraud. On Feb. 18, 2014, Hammarskjold pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the FCPA and to commit wire fraud.
The case was brought to the attention of the department through a voluntary disclosure by PetroTiger, which fully cooperated with the department’s investigation. Based on PetroTiger’s voluntary disclosure, cooperation, and remediation, among other factors, the department declined to prosecute PetroTiger.
The department has worked closely with, and has received significant assistance from, its law enforcement counterparts in the Republic of Colombia, which announced in March of this year the arrests of Duran, his wife, a former employee of PetroTiger, and several other officials from Ecopetrol. Those charges are pending, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proved guilty.
The department also received significant assistance from Ecopetrol, the National Hydrocarbons Agency, the Office of the Secretary of Transparency of the Republic of Colombia, the Office of the Attorney General of the Republic of Colombia and other agencies within the Colombian government. The department also appreciates the assistance of the Republic of the Philippines, including the Bureau of Immigration and the Republic of Panama.
The case is being investigated by the FBI’s Newark Division. The case is being prosecuted by Deputy Chief Patrick Stokes and Assistant Chief Tarek Helou, with support from Assistant Chief Daniel Kahn, of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Zach Intrater and Glenn Moramarco of the District of New Jersey. The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs also provided significant assistance.