A federal grand jury in the Western District of Texas returned an indictment charging two South Korean nationals for their roles in a conspiracy to restrain trade and a scheme to defraud the United States in connection with operation and maintenance work for U.S. military installations in South Korea.
According to the indictment, Hyun Ki Shin and Hyuk Jin Kwon were officers of a South Korean construction company that performed subcontract work on U.S. military installations in South Korea. Kwon was also a part owner of the company. Beginning at least as early as November 2018, Kwon and Shin, along with others, conspired to rig bids and fix prices for subcontract work, and defrauded the U.S. Department of Defense in order to obtain millions of dollars in repair and maintenance subcontract work at U.S military installations in South Korea.
“Bid rigging, price fixing and fraud are crimes,” said Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division. “We will not stand by as criminals engage in illegal conduct to harm our military instillations overseas.”
“By allegedly rigging bids with their competitors, the defendants cheated to obtain U.S. Army-funded repair and construction subcontracts,” said Special Agent-in-Charge Ray Park of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division’s (Army CID) Major Procurement Fraud Field Office-Pacific. “U.S Army CID Special Agents remain on guard to investigate and hold individuals accountable who corrupt the integrity of the Army’s procurement process.”
“The defendants allegedly conspired to fix prices and rig bids for repair and maintenance work at U.S. military bases,” said Assistant Director Luis Quesada of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division. “These actions are not only illegal, but they fundamentally violate the tenets of fair trade. This indictment shows that the FBI and our law enforcement partners are committed to investigating schemes intended to defraud others, even those devised on foreign soil.”
The seven-count indictment filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas charges Kwon and Shin with one count of conspiracy to restrain trade and six counts of wire fraud. This indictment is the first in an ongoing investigation into bid rigging and price fixing for operation and maintenance work for U.S. military installations in South Korea.
The maximum penalty for conspiracy to restrain trade under the Sherman Antitrust Act is 10 years of imprisonment and a fine of $1 million. For the wire fraud counts, Kwon and Shin face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The maximum fine may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime, or twice the loss suffered by victims of the crime, if either of those amounts is greater than the statutory maximum fine. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
The charges are a result of a federal investigation conducted by the Antitrust Division’s Washington Criminal II Section, Army CID and the FBI, with assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas.
Anyone with information in connection with this investigation is urged to call the Antitrust Division’s Washington Criminal II Section at 202-598-4000 or visit https://www.justice.gov/atr/contact/newcase.html.
In November 2019, the Department of Justice created the Procurement Collusion Strike Force (PCSF), a joint law enforcement effort to combat antitrust crimes and related fraudulent schemes that impact government procurement, grant and program funding at all levels of government – federal, state and local. In fall 2020, the Strike Force expanded its footprint with the launch of PCSF: Global, designed to deter, detect, investigate and prosecute collusive schemes that target government spending outside of the United States. To learn more about the PCSF, or to report information on market allocation, price fixing, bid rigging and other anticompetitive conduct related to defense-related spending, go to https://www.justice.gov/procurement-collusion-strike-force.