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U.S. Seeks to Drop First Foreign-Bribery Sting Case

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Feb. 21 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. asked a court to dismiss the biggest prosecution of individuals accused of foreign bribery after two trials in the case ended with acquittals and hung juries.

The U.S. Justice Department today requested that a federal judge in Washington dismiss the indictment, which originally accused 22 security-industry officials of planning to make payments to a federal agent posing as a representative of the West African country of Gabon to secure a stake in a fake $15 million weapons deal.

It was the first time the government used a sting operation involving undercover techniques to charge violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

In its filing, the government said it “carefully considered” the outcomes of the first two trials of 10 defendants and the impact of rulings in those cases on future trials of the remaining defendants, as well as the resources needed to continue with “another four or more” trials.

“Continued prosecution of this case is not warranted under the circumstances,” according to the filing.

The government asked that the case be dismissed with prejudice, meaning it couldn’t try to charge the defendants again for the same crimes.

Laura Sweeney, a Justice Department spokeswoman, declined to comment beyond today’s filing.

The case is U.S. v. Goncalves, 09-cr-00335, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).

To contact the reporter on this story: Tom Schoenberg in Washington at tschoenberg@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

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