Former Alcatel official sentenced in Costa Rican bribe case

Christian Sapsizian has to pay a US$261,500 fine and serve three years of supervised release for bribing Costa Rican officials.

A former Alcatel official has to pay a US$261,500 fine and serve three years of supervised release for bribing Costa Rican officials to help Alcatel land a $149 million cellular network deal with a Costa Rican phone company.

Christian Sapsizian, 62, who pleaded guilty last year to violating the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, was sentenced Tuesday. He no longer works for Alcatel, but when the bribes were paid between 2000 and 2004, he was a deputy vice president of Alcatel for the Latin American region. Alcatel and Lucent Technologies merged in 2006 to form Alcatel-Lucent.

Sapsizian admitted paying out $2.5 million over that period to an official of the Costa Rico telecommunications authority who shared the money with another official, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

The sentence took into account that Sapsizian, who worked for Alcatel for more than 20 years, is cooperating with federal prosecutors in an ongoing investigation.

Alcatel was awarded a US$149 million mobile network contract in 2001, according to the Justice Department. The bribe money was funneled through an Alcatel consulting firm in Costa Rico.

A former managing director of VoIP provider ITXC was sentenced earlier this month to five years of probation, including three months of home confinement and three months in a community confinement center, for his role in a bribery scheme involving telecom contracts in Africa, the U.S. Department of Justices says.

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