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Former CEO of Telecommunications Company Pleads Guilty to Bribery Conspiracy

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The former CEO of Miami based VoIP service provider, Latin Node (LatiNode) has pleaded guilty to conspiring to pay bribes to government officials in Honduras to secure interconnection rights for phone calls between the USA and Honduras.

To date, four former senior executives of LatiNode have pleaded guilty to conspiring to pay bribes to the Honduran officials.

The former CEO, Jorge Granados, 54, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Joan A. Lenard in U.S. District Court in Miami to conspiracy to violate the anti-bribery provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).

"Jorge Granados today admitted to authorizing illegal bribe payments to Honduran officials, and now he must pay for his crime," said Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division. "Foreign bribery undermines competition in the marketplace and weakens democratic institutions. CEOs and other corporate executives should know that now, more than ever, violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act will lead to criminal prosecution."

According to court documents, in December 2005, LatiNode learned that it was the sole winner of an "interconnection agreement" with Hondutel, the wholly state-owned telecommunications authority in Honduras. The agreement permitted LatiNode to use Hondutel's telecommunications lines in order to establish a network between Honduras and the USA, and to provide long distance services between the two countries.

According to court documents, Granados and other LatiNode executives agreed to a secret deal to pay bribes to Hondutel officials, including the general manager, a senior attorney for Hondutel, and a minister of the Honduran government who became a representative on the Hondutel board of directors.

Between September 2006 and June 2007, LatiNode executives are said to have paid more than $500,000 in bribes to the Honduran officials, concealing many of the payments by laundering the money through LatiNode subsidiaries in Guatemala and to accounts in Honduras controlled by the Honduran government officials.

Granados admitted in court that he authorized bribe payments.

At sentencing, scheduled for Aug. 22, 2011, Granados faces up to five years in prison and a fine of the greater of $250,000, or twice the value gained or lost.

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Tags: hondutel  usa  USA  Honduras