A Manchester businessman has been arrested in Las Vegas after an undercover FBI sting operation over the alleged bribery of foreign government officials.
Michael Sacks, 66, was among five Britons, four Israelis and 13 others accused of attempting to bribe foreign defence officials in exchange for business contracts.
Mr Sacks, along with Israel Weisler, 63, also known as Wayne, an Israeli who was also arrested, are owners of an armour production manufacturer based in Kentucky.
The undercover operation involved an FBI agent posing as the minister of defence for a country in Africa. The defendants allegedly agreed to pay a 20 per cent “commission” to the sales agent whom they believed represented the minister, in order to win a portion of a $15million (£9million) deal to supply body armour for the country’s presidential guard.
All 22 defendants are executives and employees at companies involved in the military or law enforcement products industry.
The other Israelis are Ofer Paz, 50, Haim Geri, 50, and Yochanan Cohen, 47, also known as Yochi Cohen.
Last week, Mr Sacks pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.
Officers from the City of London Police and the Greater Manchester Police have searched seven different locations in England including offices in Salford and a house in Whitefield as part of the investigation.
Det Supt Colin Cowan, head of the City of London Police’s Overseas Anti-Corruption Unit (OACU), said: “Overseas corruption is a serious crime that has a serious impact, both at home and abroad, and this operation displays both the depth and breadth of our determination and capability.”
Lanny Breuer, the US Assistant Attorney General, said that these arrests were a “turning point” in the “fight to erase foreign bribery”.
He said in an statement: “This ongoing investigation is the first large-scale use of undercover law enforcement techniques to uncover [foreign corruption] violations and the largest action ever undertaken by the Justice Department against individuals for these violations.”
The defendants have been charged with conspiracy and foreign corruption, which holds a sentence of up to five years in prison for each count; and money laundering conspiracy, which holds a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.