A Moorestown attorney could serve up to 20 years or more in prison after pleading guilty to bribing a Colombian official as part of a scheme to land a nearly $40 million oil services contract.
Gregory Weisman, 42, the former general counsel for PetroTiger—a British Virgin Islands oil and gas company with operations in Colombia and offices in New Jersey—pleaded guilty to the bribery charge, as well as a charge of fraud, back in November, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office of New Jersey.
Authorities accuse Weisman—along with former PetroTiger co-CEOs Joseph Sigelman, of Miami and the Philippines, and Knut Hammarskjold, of Greenville, S.C, both also 42—of paying bribes to the official in exchange for his assistance in securing approval for the roughly $39 million contract.
All three men have been charged with conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and to commit wire fraud. Hammarskjold and Sigelman have also been charged with conspiracy to launder money and substantive violations of the FCPA.
“Bribery of public officials, whether at home or abroad, corrupts business opportunity and undermines trust in government,” U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said Monday. “The under-the-table deals alleged in today’s charges are not an acceptable way of doing business.”
Hammarskjold was arrested Nov. 20 at Newark Liberty International Airport. Sigelman was arrested on Jan. 3 in the Philippines.
The charges allege the defendants made payments from PetroTiger’s bank account in the United States to the official’s bank account to secure approval from Colombia’s state-owned and state-controlled oil company for a lucrative oil services contract, and tried to conceal the bribes by first directing the payments to an account in the name of the Colombian official’s wife. When that didn’t work, they transferred the money directly to the official’s bank account, authorities said.
Court documents also allege the defendants sought kickback payments at the expense of PetroTiger’s board members.
The conspiracy to commit wire fraud count carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, while the conspiracy to commit violations of the FCPA count carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.
Information provided by the U.S. Attorney’s Office of New Jersey.