The former president and chief executive officer of Tulsa-based BizJet International Sales and Support Inc. pleaded guilty today to paying bribes to foreign government officials.
Bernd Kowalewski pleaded guilty today in federal court in Tulsa to conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and a substantive violation of the FCPA in connection with a scheme to pay bribes to officials in Mexico and Panama in exchange for those officials' assistance in securing contracts for BizJet to perform aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul services.
Kowalewski was arrested on a provisional arrest warrant by authorities in Amsterdam on March 13, 2014, and waived extradition on June 20, 2014.
"While Kowalewski and his fellow executives referred to the corrupt payments as 'commissions' and 'incentives,' they were bribes, plain and simple," said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell.
Kowalewski is the third BizJet executive to plead guilty in this case. Peter DuBois, the former Vice President of Sales and Marketing, pleaded guilty on Jan. 5, 2012, to conspiracy to violate the FCPA and a substantive violation of the FCPA and Neal Uhl, the former Vice President of Finance, pleaded guilty on Jan. 5, 2012, to conspiracy to violate the FCPA. Jald Jensen, the former sales manager at BizJet, has been indicted for conspiracy as well as substantive FCPA violations and money laundering and is believed to be living abroad. Charges were unsealed against the four defendants on April 5, 2013.