April 13, 2018 / 5:16 PM / 14 days ago

Aruban official pleads guilty to laundering bribe money in U.S.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An Aruban official living in Florida pleaded guilty in Miami federal court to laundering bribe money, the U.S. Justice Department said on Friday.

Egbert Yvan Ferdinand Koolman, an official at Aruba’s national telecom provider, Servicio di Telecomunicacion di Aruba (SETAR), admitted on Friday to taking more than $1.3 million in bribes from American vendors in exchange for contracts, the Justice Department said in a statement.

Koolman laundered the money through wire transfers at American banks, authorities said. Koolman faces up to 20 years in prison, according to court papers.

U.S. officials have expressed growing concern in recent years about foreign officials using American banks to stow the proceeds of corruption. The U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act makes it a crime for U.S.-tied companies to bribe overseas officials to win business.

In connection with the scheme, an American, Lawrence Parker, pleaded guilty in December to paying bribes for 10 years to win mobile phone sales with SETAR. Parker and Koolman are awaiting sentencing scheduled for later this year.

Reporting by Joel Schectman; Editing by Steve Orlofsky

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