Former Bechtel VP sentenced to 42 months in jail for taking $5.2 million kickback

Asem elgawhary, 73 the former principal VP of Bechtel and manager of a joint venture between Bechtel and an Egyption utility, was sentenced to 42 months in prison for taking $5.2 million in kickbacks to manipulate the bidding process for state run power contracts in Egypt.

Mr.  Elgawhary, pleaded guilty to mail fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and obstruction and interference with the administration of the tax laws.

From 1996 to 2011, Elgawhary was assigned by Bechtel—a U.S. corporation engaged in engineering, construction and project management—to be the general manager at Power Generation Engineering and Services Company (PGESCo), a joint venture between Bechtel and Egypt’s state-owned and state-controlled electricity company, known as EEHC. PGESCo assisted EEHC in identifying possible subcontractors, soliciting bids and awarding contracts to perform power projects for EEHC. According to his plea agreement, Elgawhary admitted to accepting a total of $5.2 million from three power companies, which they paid to secure a competitive and unfair advantage in the bidding process. One of the power companies, Alstom S.A., together with a Swiss subsidiary, pleaded guilty on Dec. 22, 2014, to violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) in connection with a scheme to pay bribes to foreign officials, including Elgawhary, in various countries.

Elgawhary admitted that he attempted to conceal the kickback scheme by routing the payments through various off-shore bank accounts, including Swiss bank accounts, under his control. Elgawhary also sent various documents and “Representation Letters” to Bechtel executives and members of the PGESCo Board of Directors, falsely certifying that he had no knowledge or suspicion of any fraud at PGESCo, and that there were no possible violations of law or regulations that should have been considered for disclosure in PGESCo’s financial statements.

Elgawhary, a dual U.S. and Egyptian citizen, was arrested on a criminal complaint when he flew into the United States on Nov. 26, 2013, and was indicted on Feb. 10, 2014.