Joseph Sigelman, a former co-chief executive officer of PetroTiger Ltd., was released on $4.4 million bail on charges that he paid bribes to an official at Ecopetrol SA, Colombia’s state-controlled oil company.
Sigelman, 42, appeared today in federal court in Camden, New Jersey, after taking a plane from Guam, according to Rebekah Carmichael, a spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman. He was arrested Jan. 3 in the Philippines and appeared at a bail hearing yesterday in federal court in Guam.
Sigelman was charged with another former co-CEO, Knut Hammarskjold, 42. Sigelman’s attorney, Andrew Lourie, didn’t immediately respond to phone and e-mail messages seeking comment.
Hammarskjold was charged Nov. 8 and arrested 12 days later. He was released on $700,000 bail on Dec. 4. Former general counsel Gregory Weisman, 42, pleaded guilty Nov. 8 to his role in the scheme.
As part of his bail package, Sigelman must stay in the Long Island, New York, home of his parents, Carmichael said.
The co-CEOs funneled payments through the wife of an official at Ecopetrol, Latin America’s second-largest oil company by market value, authorities said. The official wasn’t identified in court papers.
Prosecutors also charged the three men with a separate kickback scheme involving the purchase of another company on behalf of PetroTiger and several of its directors, who helped fund the deal. PetroTiger is a British Virgin Islands-based oil and gas company.
The defendants increased the purchase price, and two owners of the target company agreed to kick back a portion of the higher amount, authorities said. The men had the payments deposited into Sigelman’s bank account in the Philippines and created a side letter to justify the payments. They referred to the payment as the “Manila Split,” according to authorities.
Both Sigelman and Hammarskjold were charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and three counts of violating the FCPA. They face as long as 20 years in prison if convicted of the most serious charge. Weisman pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the FCPA and commit wire fraud.
Sigelman had served as chairman of Atlantic, Gulf & Pacific Co. of Manila Inc. until yesterday, when he resigned and was replaced by Cesar Buenaventura, according to a company statement. Weisman worked as AG&P’s general counsel from June 2011 to March 2013, when he was replaced by Manuel Alberto R. Colayco, according to the company.
The cases are U.S. v. Hammarskjold, 13-mj-2086, U.S. v. Sigelman, 13-mj-02087, and U.S. v. Weisman, 13-cr-730, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey (Camden).