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BFCSA: Sacked Commonwealth Bank of Australia manager charged over bribery in US

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Sacked Commonwealth Bank of Australia manager charged over bribery in US

Australian Financial Review Sep 29 2017 5:16 AM

John Kehoe

 

A former Commonwealth Bank of Australia technology executive and a contractor to the bank have both been charged by law enforcement authorities in the United States for participating in a multi-million dollar bribery and kickback scheme.

Jon Waldron was one of two Commonwealth Bank technology managers in 2013 and 2014 who allegedly shared in $US2.5 million of bribes facilitated by an American software contractor to the bank, Eric Pulier.

Mr Waldron, 47, and Mr Pulier, 50, were indicted in Los Angeles on Thursday for conspiracy to commit securities fraud and wire fraud, charges that carry maximum jail sentences of 25 and 20 years respectively.

The scheme allegedly involved ServiceMesh founder Mr Pulier orchestrating bribes to Sydney-based Mr Waldron and CBA colleague Keith Hunter to approve more than $10 million of software sales by the bank to the California cloud software company.

Mr Hunter was CBA's executive vice president of IT engineering and Mr Pulier helped him get hired by the bank. Mr Hunter pleaded guilty to similar fraud charges in a Sydney court and was sentenced to 3½ years jail last December.

The two technology managers were sacked by CBA in December 2014 and the matter was referred to NSW Police in early 2015 after an internal bank security investigation into suspicious payments made to both men's bank accounts. They were arrested in Sydney in March 2015.

A Commonwealth Bank spokesman said: "We considered that the suspicious activity of these individuals was serious, that's why we took the step of reporting their activity to the NSW Police."

According to the US Department of Justice, the inflated CBA contracts helped Mr Pulier's firm receive $US98 million in incentive bonuses from New York Stock Exchange-listed Computer Sciences Corporation, which acquired ServiceMesh for an initial $US163 million in November 2013.

Mr Pulier, a serial entrepreneur who once worked as an adviser to former vice president Al Gore, personally received about $US30 million of earnout payments from the unsuspecting CSC.

The incentive bonus was paid after the CBA contracts helped ServiceMesh exceed a $US20 million revenue threshold goal set by CSC.

The alleged ServiceMesh bribery scheme involved payments to the bank accounts of the two CBA technology managers via conduit entities, including a purported charitable organisation, The Ace Foundation, which was headed by a childhood friend of Mr Pulier's.

Mr Waldron allegedly received $US1.9 million via a shell company in New Zealand.

Following a review by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, US authorities have issued warrants for the arrest of Mr Pulier and Mr Waldron, who is facing similar charges in Sydney.

Mr Waldron and ServiceMesh's Mr Pulier have not been found guilty and are expected to stand criminal trial in the US.

They are also facing a separate civil action from the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

Former CBA executive Mr Hunter allegedly received nearly $1 million in kickbacks. He earlier entered into a plea agreement with US government prosecutors.

Mr Pulier faces additional charges of obstruction of justice, the use of an interstate facility in aid of commercial bribery and filing a false tax return related to charitable deductions.

The FBI and US Department of Justice worked in partnership with NSW Police on the investigation.

 

Lawyers for the defendants were contacted for comment early Friday morning Australian time.

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