Tuesday, September 26, 2023
Courthouse News Service
Tuesday, September 26, 2023 | Back issues
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SoCal Businessman Admits Paying Bribes

(CN) - A Southern California man pleaded guilty Tuesday to authorizing $628,000 worth of bribes in order to secure $3.5 million worth of valve business in China, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Romania.

Richard Morlok, 55, worked for an Orange County- based valve company between 2002 and 2007 as the finance director.

For 3 years, he directed corrupt payments to foreign government officials, who then influenced their state-owned entities to use the company as a supplier for valves and connections used in nuclear, power, and oil and gas industries, states the plea.

To avoid detection, Morlok lied to internal and external auditors in 2004, says Ian McCaleb, the Senior Public Affairs Specialist of the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, but roughly 10 employees reported him.

The U.S. Attorney s Office would not release the name of the valve company because the investigation is ongoing.

In a related case, a colleague of Morlok pleaded guilty last month for also issuing bribes, this time about $1 million worth. Mario Covino will be sentenced in July.

McCaleb would not release the name of the valve company because the investigation is ongoing.

The plea lists China National Offshore Oil Company, Petrochina, Jiangsu Nuclear Power Corporation (China), KHNP (Korea), Rovinari Power (Romania), and Safco (Saudi Arabia) as being involved with the bribes.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Douglas McCormick is pursuing Morlok for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Whitney Ellerman, from Hunton & Williams, represents Morlok.

Morlok faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison, and will have his charges read in July.

U.S. District Judge James Selna presided over the case.

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