Delaware Company to Pay $500,000 for Campaign Violations

Delaware’s exclusive contractor for Anheuser-Busch InBev NV products, N.K.S. Distributors, agreed to pay $500,000 in lieu of criminal prosecution after being accused of reimbursing employees for campaign contributions.

The New Castle-based distributor admitted no wrongdoing and agreed to corporate governance reforms to guard against future abuses, according to a non-prosecution agreement approved today by Superior Court Judge Calvin L. Scott Jr. in Wilmington.

N.K.S., once headed by jailed felon Christopher J. Tigani, is paying “so that it can continue as a going concern” and “viable employer” of 127 workers in the state, according to the agreement, brokered by E. Norman Veasey, a special prosecutor and former Delaware Supreme Court chief justice.

“Defendant is in a very difficult financial condition, in part as a result of Christopher Tigani’s acts,” according to the agreement.

Tigani, 41, now incarcerated in the Brooklyn, New York, Metropolitan Detention Center, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, was sentenced March 6 to two years for breaking U.S. tax and campaign-contribution laws and has filed for U.S. Bankruptcy Court protection.

He admitted last year that he illegally reimbursed his employees for contributions he ordered them to make in 2007. The contributions included $70,400 to a presidential campaign committee for Vice President Joe Biden, then a senator from Delaware, according to court filings.

State, County Offices

Today’s settlement involves reimbursed “contributions to various candidates for state and county public office.” The candidates weren’t named. Veasey said in an e-mailed statement that he hopes to provide a complete report by early fall.

“We thank Independent Counsel Veasey for his service to Delaware and look forward to his final report,” Jason Miller, a spokesman for Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, Joe Biden’s son, said in an e-mailed statement.

The agreement concludes the investigation, and N.K.S. employees “have taken steps necessary for the business to succeed,” Timothy A. Donnelly, the current N.K.S. president and chief executive officer, said in an e-mailed statement.

AB InBev wasn’t involved in the case. The company, based in Leuven, Belgium, fell 4 cents to 62.94 euros today in trading in Brussels.

The federal criminal case is U.S. v. Tigani, 11-cr-42, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington). Tigani’s bankruptcy case is In re Christopher J. Tigani, 10-11855, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

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