Charges were unsealed yesterday against a Micronesian government official for his alleged participation in a money laundering scheme involving bribes made to corruptly secure engineering and project management contracts from the government of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). In a related matter, on Jan. 22, a U.S. executive pleaded guilty for his role in a scheme to, among other things, bribe the Micronesian official in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).
Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Special Agent in Charge Sean Kaul of the FBI’s Honolulu Field Office made the announcement.
Master Halbert, 44, a Micronesian citizen, was charged in a criminal complaint filed in the District of Hawaii with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. Halbert was arrested yesterday in Honolulu, Hawaii, and had his initial court appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Richard L. Puglisi of the District of Hawaii. Halbert is scheduled to have a pretrial detention hearing on Feb. 13 and a preliminary hearing on Feb. 22.
According to the criminal complaint, Halbert was a government official in the FSM Department of Transportation, Communications and Infrastructure who administered FSM’s aviation programs, including the management of its airports. The complaint alleges that between 2006 and 2016, a Hawaii-based engineering and consulting company owned by Frank James Lyon paid bribes to FSM officials, including Halbert, to obtain and retain contracts with the FSM government valued at nearly $8 million. According to the complaint, Lyon entered into an agreement with Halbert to bribe Halbert in exchange for Halbert’s assistance in securing contracts for Lyon and his company. Lyon and Halbert allegedly agreed that these bribes would be transported from the United States to FSM.
The charges contained in the complaint are merely allegations and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
In the related matter, Lyon, 53, of Honolulu, Hawaii, pleaded guilty on Jan. 22 to a one-count information filed in the District of Hawaii charging him with conspiracy to violate the anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA and to commit federal program fraud. Lyon is scheduled to be sentenced on May 13.
Trial Attorney Katherine Raut of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section is prosecuting the case. The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs also provided assistance.
The Fraud Section is responsible for investigating and prosecuting all FCPA matters. Additional information about the department’s FCPA enforcement efforts can be found at www.justice.gov/criminal/fraud/fcpa.