Justice drops foreign bribery case against defense executives

The case was the first where the FBI used an undercover sting operation to nab suspects under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which says it’s illegal to bribe foreign officials.

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The defense industry executives had thought they were bidding on contracts for Gabon’s military, and were asked by officials — who said they were with Gabon’s defense ministry — to add a 20 percent “commission” to their quotes as a bribe, according to Reuters.

The Gabon officials were in fact undercover FBI agents, and the FBI arrested 22 executives in 2010.

But after the Justice Department was unable to win convictions in its first trials, it decided to abandon the case Tuesday. Three executives had pleaded guilty before a trial, Reuters reported.

In its filing, the Justice Department said the outcomes of the first two trials, rulings that did not allow certain evidence to be admitted and the amount of government resources needed to continue the prosecution, all led to the decision to drop the case.

“The government respectfully submits that continued prosecution of this case is not warranted under the circumstances,” the prosecutors wrote in the filing.