Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.

The lawyer for Frederic Bourke Jr. attacked two government cooperators on Tuesday for lying on the witness stand as they implicated Bourke in a scheme to bribe leaders of Azerbaijan in a bid for a controlling stake of the state-owned oil company. John D. Cline of Jones Day told a jury during closing arguments that both a lawyer and a top aide to Viktor Kozeny, a Czech national and the alleged mastermind of the 1998 scheme to bribe then-Azeri President Heider Aliyev and other officials, provided false testimony because they were desperate to stay out of prison. Without the “essential testimony” of the two witnesses — Swiss lawyer Hans Bodmer and Kozeny aide Thomas Farrell — testimony that had been proven false, Cline said, “Ric Bourke is just another American investor who got fleeced by Kozeny and lost all his money.” He added, “You would think that after all these years, they would have their facts nailed down. What about due diligence by the prosecutors? They’ve been investigating this case for nine years.” In all, five people were charged in the case and three have pleaded guilty pursuant to cooperation agreements with the government. Bodmer and Farrell testified against Bourke. Charges against a sixth individual were dismissed. Bourke, 63, faces as much as 30 years in prison if convicted of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the Travel Act, conspiracy to commit money laundering and making false statements. Bourke is accused of knowing that Kozeny gave millions of dollars in cash to Aliyev, as well as a two-thirds interest in an investment group formed to purchase a majority of shares in the Azeri oil company Socar. Kozeny, currently residing in a seaside mansion in the Bahamas, is fighting extradition to the United States. It is Bourke’s contention that he believed the Azeri leader and others were not bribed, but actually paid full value for their two-thirds stake. Bourke, the co-founder of Dooney & Bourke handbags, claims he was a victim who lost his $5 million of his own investment and more than $2 million of other people’s money when Aliyev decided not to privatize Socar. Bourke has presented himself as a whistleblower who went to the authorities to expose Kozeny, who he said had fleeced investors in options to buy vouchers for the sale of Socar stock. Southern District Assistant U.S. Attorney Iris Lan, in her closing argument on Monday, said there was no actual proof the president and others were bribed, but the jury need only find that Bourke entered a conspiracy and either knew of its aim or consciously avoided evidence of a crime because he stuck “his head in the sand”. Proof of that conspiracy and the extent of Bourke’s knowledge, she said, was provided in part by Bodmer and Farrell. But on Tuesday, Cline said the witnesses’ claims had been debunked. Bodmer testified that he talked with Bourke in the lobby of the Hyatt Hotel in Baku, Azerbaijan, on Feb. 5, 1998, and Bourke inquired about the arrangement with Azeri leaders. Bodmer said he then went up to Kozeny’s room and asked for permission to give Bourke the details. That permission was granted, Bodmer testified, and at 8 a.m. on Feb. 6 Bodmer took Bourke for a walk and explained that the Azeris had been given a two-thirds interest. Two weeks later, he said, Bourke was writing a check for $5 million. This all might be true, Cline explained for the jury, except for airline flight records showing Bourke and Kozeny were in London the night of Feb. 5 and their plane did not touch down in Baku until 9:20 a.m. on Feb. 6. Once that evidence was introduced at trial, Cline said, “the prosecution gave up” and stipulated that Kozeny was not in Baku on Feb. 5. Had Bodmer’s lie not been discovered, Cline said, “You may have convicted Mr. Bourke on the basis of false testimony. That is a frightening thought.” Cline then turned to Farrell, who he said perjured himself in the service of “an all-time sweetheart deal” offered by the prosecution. Farrell, he said, lied about explaining the details of the Azeri arrangement to Bourke on two occasions in April 1998. The first time he told Bourke, Farrell testified, was two weeks before the opening of an office for Kozeny’s investment bank in Baku on April 24 and 25, 1998. But the evidence showed that Bourke was not in Baku on that date, Cline said. Farrell also insisted he gave Bourke details of the arrangement during a walk the two men took during the actual opening of the office two weeks later. During that walk, Farrell said, Bourke asked, “Are we paying enough?” But Cline said that claim made “no sense” because former Sen. George Mitchell, a friend of Bourke’s who would ultimately lose $200,000 in the Kozeny venture, had just met with Aliyev and had relayed to Bourke that privatization of Socar was going “to take time, but it was going to happen.” Cline also tried to turn the tables on a damaging piece of evidence against his client — a tape-recorded conversation that the jury heard when Mitchell testified for the defense on June 22. On the tape, Bourke and fellow investor and major Clinton-backer Richard Friedman and their lawyers discuss establishing a new corporate structure only for U.S. investors that would shield them from any potential criminal and civil liability. Bourke asks how he would respond if Kozeny or one of his acolytes tells him that a foreign official has been bribed to get a deal done. “Let’s say they tell you that — what do you do with that?” Bourke says. Ms. Lan on Monday said this was an example of how Bourke knew about the arrangements between Kozeny and the Azeris and how Bourke was instructing his lawyers to “build a wall” separating himself from the bribery scheme. But on Tuesday, Cline said this was the kind of conversation people have with their lawyers all the time, and he urged the jury to play the tape when they begin deliberations. The prosecution, he said, argued that “Mr. Bourke is refusing to ask questions because he doesn’t want knowledge. He is asking questions, ‘What do we do if Mr. Kozeny is paying bribes?’” The trial before Southern District Judge Shira Scheindlin began on June 1. The judge was expected to begin charging the jury Wednesday morning.

This content has been archived. It is available through our partners, LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law.

To view this content, please continue to their sites.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Not a Bloomberg Law Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law are third party online distributors of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law customers are able to access and use ALM's content, including content from the National Law Journal, The American Lawyer, Legaltech News, The New York Law Journal, and Corporate Counsel, as well as other sources of legal information.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]


ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.