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2nd O.C. exec admits bribing foreign officials

February 04, 2009|Stuart Pfeifer

The former finance director of an Orange County industrial valve maker pleaded guilty Tuesday to paying more than $600,000 in bribes to officials in four countries who bought his company's products.

Richard Morlok, 55, pleaded guilty to a single felony count that accused him of conspiring to bribe officials with state-owned gas, oil and power companies in China, South Korea, Romania and Saudi Arabia.

Morlok's company, Control Components Inc., made about $3.5 million in profit from the companies he bribed, according to a plea agreement filed in federal court. Morlok, who entered his plea before U.S. District Judge James V. Selna in Santa Ana, faces up to five years in prison.

Morlok is the second official with Control Components to plead guilty to violating the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Mario Covino, former director of worldwide sales for the company, pleaded guilty last month to a charge that he paid $1 million to officials with state-run power companies in Brazil, China, India, South Korea, Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates.

Control Components, headquartered in Rancho Santa Margarita, manufactures valves used in the nuclear, gas, oil and power generation industries worldwide.

Officials with the company declined to comment Tuesday. In a statement last month, parent company Imperial Metal Industries said Control Components initiated an investigation in 2007 after discovering "irregular payments" involving trading contracts.

As part of their plea agreements, Morlok and Covino each agreed to cooperate with FBI investigators.

Assistant U.S. Atty. Douglas P. McCormick declined to discuss the case, but said the investigation was continuing.

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stuart.pfeifer@latimes.com

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