KC man convicted in Costa Rican bribery plan

Wednesday, June 26, 2002

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A Kansas City man has been convicted of participating in a scheme to offer $1.5 million in bribes to politicians and government officials in Costa Rica.

Prosecutors said the bribes were intended to secure a concession to build a port and resort complex on the Caribbean Sea.

A jury in U.S. District Court in Kansas City on Monday found Robert Richard King, 68, guilty of one count of conspiracy and four of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

The Costa Rican ambassador to the United States, Jaime Daremblum, has said government officials were not involved in what he called "a fantasy concocted to swindle Americans."

King had no comment after the verdict.

Prosecutors alleged King conspired with Owl Securities & Investment, a Kansas City company in which he owned stock, to bribe Costa Rican officials.

Taped evidence from the former president of Owl Securities, Stephen Kingsley, provided some of the trial's most important evidence. Kingsley, who died in October 2000, secretly recorded many meetings with King and others that detailed the bribery scheme.

King and another man charged in the scheme discussed setting up a $1 million escrow account for the closing costs to Costa Rican politicians in a June 2000 meeting that was taped.

"Assuming the room's not bugged," King said, "let's talk a different thing. What we're doing is proving that we have the ability to bribe them properly."

King's attorney, Pasano, contended that Kingsley cooperated with the FBI to reduce his own exposure to prosecution and manipulated bureau agents as well as King by encouraging his colleagues to speak on tape about bribes.

The deal wasn't completed, Pasano stressed in closing arguments.

"Just being foolish enough to talk about it? Not enough," he told jurors.

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