* Prosecutors allege bribes were paid to Georgia officials
* Plea would be the first in major FBI sting (Recasts with Georgia allegation)
WASHINGTON, March 5 (Reuters) - U.S. prosecutors on Friday alleged that a former arms executive, who is expected to plead guilty to bribery charges, made illicit payments to defense ministry officials in Georgia.
Daniel Alvirez, a former president of an arms manufacturer in Bull Shoals, Arkansas, plans to enter a guilty plea in the next few weeks to charges under the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, according to his attorney.
“I can confirm that,” the attorney, Michael Volkov, said.
Volkov spoke after U.S. prosecutors filed a so-called superseding information against Alvirez that laid out in greater detail than before an alleged scheme to bribe foreign government officials, including payments to Georgian defense officials.
The Georgian bribes were allegedly paid to secure contracts for the sale of M855 ammunition and rations, according to the superseding information.
Officials at the Georgian embassy in Washington could not immediately be reached for comment.
Superseding informations, which replace previous criminal charges, are typically filed when a defendant has negotiated a plea agreement with the government.
Alvirez was one of 22 arms executives arrested in January -- 21 of them at a convention in Las Vegas -- in the largest prosecution of individuals brought by the U.S. Justice Department under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).
The act makes it a crime to bribe foreign officials to obtain or retain business.
The 22, including a former senior salesman at Smith & Wesson SWHC.O, were charged in 16 separate indictments after a sting in which federal agents posed as arms-buying representatives of the defense minister of an African country.
The investigation marked the first time the U.S. government had employed an undercover operation to ensnare individuals under the FCPA.
The superseding information spells out additional details about the FCPA conspiracy charge brought against the defendants.
While the 22 appeared to have no ties to one another beyond being ensnared in the same sting, the document says that Alvirez and 16 other defendants attended a cocktail reception at Clyde’s restaurant in Washington, D.C., to celebrate their respective deals in the sting operation.
The company Alvirez worked for is not identified in the superseding information, but he was formerly president of ALS Technologies Inc, which makes tear gas launchers, bullets and other ammunition. (Reporting by Dan Margolies; Editing by Tim Dobbyn, Gary Hill)
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