John O’Shea, a former general manager of Texas-based ABB Inc. accused of FCPA violations and a cover up of payments made to officials of Mexico’s Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE) through a Mexican sales agent, Esimex, was acquitted of charges that he bribed officials of the Mexican state-owned electric utility in connection with trying to get a contract to build a “smart grid” in Mexico.
At the closing of the federal prosecutors’ case in Houston federal court, U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes granted a defense motion for acquittal, finding O’Shea not guilty of all substantive FCPA charges.
Judge Hughes stated that the government’s chief witness, an Esimex principal awaiting sentencing on conspiracy charges, could not tie Mr. O’Shea to the alleged crimes. The judge found that O’Shea’s conduct, including his attempts to renew a contract between ABB and Esimex, was reasonably explained by lawful motives.
In September 2010, the DOJ announced that Switzerland-based ABB Ltd. and two of its subsidiaries paid $58 million in criminal and civil penalties, disgorgement and interest, and that ABB Inc. pleaded guilty to two FCPA counts.