This week, it was announced that a New Jersey-based real estate broker had pleaded guilty to foreign bribery in relation to a scheme to bribe a foreign official in the Middle East in hopes of securing a real estate deal for a South Korean construction company. 39-year-old Joo Hyun Bahn of Tenafly, New Jersey pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and one count of violating the FCPA.
The defendant was charged with his father, Ban Ki Sang and Malcolm Harris in December of 2016. Ban served as a senior executive at the South Korean construction company, Keangnam Enterprises. Harris, who was an arts and fashion consultant and blogger, presented himself as an agent of a foreign official.
Admissions made in connection with Bahn’s plea explain that between February 2014 and May 2015, the defendant became involved in a scheme to pay bribes to a foreign official in the Middle East to facilitate the sale by Keangnam of a commercial building in Hanoi, Vietnam to the Middle Eastern country’s sovereign wealth fund.
Bahn, his father and others agreed to pay $500,000 upfront to the foreign official, who was believed to make decisions about the acquisition of assets for the Middle Eastern country’s sovereign wealth fund. Also, Bahn and his father transferred $500,000 to Harris, while instructing him to pass the money along to the foreign official. Harris ultimately admitted to double-crossing his co-defendants and stealing the $500,000 bribe. Additional details have been made available here.