Fokker Deserved Deal in Iran Sanctions Case, U.S. Says

Federal prosecutors are standing behind the $21 million deferred-prosecution agreement offered to Fokker Services B.V., to settle allegations that the Dutch aerospace firm violated U.S. sanctions against Iran.

The U.S. Attorney’s office in Washington is sticking to its position that Fokker deserved lenient treatment because of the company’s “voluntary self-disclosure” in June 2010, according to a court filing yesterday.

U.S. District Judge Richard Leon asked the government to review its position at a July 9 hearing following publication of a Bloomberg News story that said Fokker’s unlawful transactions with Iran first emerged from late 2007 to early 2008 during a separate investigation. The story cited three anonymous sources and referred to a Justice Department prosecution of Aviation Services International and its principals, Robert and Neils Kraaipoel.

Leon also questioned the size of the proposed penalty levied on Fokker, and the lack of charges filed against individuals in the matter at the hearing.

On July 24, the government disclosed the existence of an affidavit from a retired Commerce Department agent, David Poole, who said Fokker’s disclosure in 2010 was neither voluntary, truthful nor complete.

Formal Investigation

In today’s filing, the government maintained its position that Fokker’s disclosure was voluntary. Although prosecutors conceded that some government representatives might have learned about Fokker’s wrongful conduct before the disclosure, they said there was no evidence that a formal investigation of the Dutch aerospace company had begun before the company’s June 2010 disclosure.

Former special agent Poole’s belief that he had begun an investigation of Fokker Services in 2007 or 2008 “is unsupported,” prosecutors wrote in the filing. “Regardless of what former special agent Poole intended to do, there is no record showing that he took any affirmative substantive investigative step focused on Fokker Services before the company came forward to admit its wrongdoing in June 2010.”

The government acknowledged that a sweep of Aviation Services International’s warehouse in the Netherlands in August 2008 produced evidence related to Fokker, but says the discovery of such evidence didn’t constitute an investigation of Fokker.

“Evidence referencing Fokker Services was caught in law enforcement’s net, but the net was not cast over Fokker Services itself,” the prosecutors wrote.

Poole declined to comment on the filing.

Pentagon Contractor

Fokker Technologies Holding BV, the parent company of Fokker Services, has been a contractor with the Pentagon’s F-35 program since 2002. The Dutch aerospace company supplies in-flight opening doors and flaps and electrical wiring systems.

Because the deferred-prosecution agreement was struck with Fokker Services, which had no direct involvement with the Pentagon’s F-35 project, the parent company is unlikely to lose its eligibility to work on the plane, according to Pentagon guidelines for contractors.

The F-35 program is a $392 billion weapons system being produced by Lockheed Martin Corp. Laurie Tortorello, a spokeswoman for Lockheed Martin, declined to comment on the filing.

The case is U.S. v. Fokker Services BV, 1:14-cr-00121, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).

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