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Tuesday, February 12, 2019
Lyon Bribery Micronesia: Arrests Start at the Top
By Andrew Walden @ 4:15 AM :: 16201 Views :: DHHL, Ethics, World News

by Andrew Walden

(UPDATED Feb 12, 2019 9AM HST with information from Halbert indictment.)

The alleged ‘Micronesian Official #1’ is in Federal custody in Honolulu—and his connections go to the top of the FSM government. 

Arrested over the weekend, Master Halbert, son-in-law of Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) President Peter Christian and son of FSM Senator Dohsis Halbertappeared before Honolulu Federal Judge Richard L. Puglisi for arraignment Monday, February 11, 2019. 

(UPDATE Feb 13, 2019: Halbert's wife, Annjanette B Christian, posted $25K bond for Halbert's release.  He is required to surrender his passport and stay on Oahu, living at a Wilder Ave condo owned by his wife's father, FSM President Peter Christian.) 

A Federal source tells Hawai’i Free Press Halbert is charged with being the ‘Micronesian Official 1’ described in the January 16, 2019, indictment and January 22, 2019, guilty plea of corrupt Honolulu engineering contractor Frank James Lyon.  Alleged bribes to ‘Micronesian Official 1’ include cash, a pickup truck, a trip to Las Vegas, and tuition at UH Manoa. 

UPDATE: A sealed indictment against Halbert was filed January 24, 2019 and is now unsealed.  PDF: USA v Halbert Indictment.  Halbert is set for a detention hearing February 13, 2019 and a preliminary hearing February 22, 2019.  A US DoJ news release describes the charges as a "Money Laundering Scheme Involving Foreign Bribery."

These were only part of the total bribe package outlined in the Lyon indictment:

From in or around 2006 through in or around 2016, Frank James Lyon, together with his co-conspirators, provided bribe payments to FSM officials totaling at least approximately $200,000 in order to obtain approximately $7.8 million in contract payments.

’Micronesian Official 1' is described in the Lyon indictment as:

...an individual whose identity is known to the United States, was a government official in the FSM Department of Transportation, Communications and Infrastructure who administered FSM's aviation programs, including the management of its airports....

The FSM government website indicates Halbert is Assistant Secretary of Civil Aviation under FSM Department of Transportation, Communications, and Infrastructure (TC&I) Secretary Lukner B. WeilbacherWeilbacher is also President Christian's brother in law.  Secretary Weilbacher did not respond to a request for comment.

An on-line TC&I organizational chart shows Lyon Associates employees occupying nine of the eleven positions in the TC&I Program Management Unit (PMU).

Line 38 from the Lyon indictment describes how Lyon Associates got those positions:

“In or around June 2015, Frank James Lyon and Micronesian Official 1 instructed Co-Conspirator 2 to draft a request for qualification document seeking bids for an FSM project management contract ("PMU Contract"), including drafting selection criteria to favor Engineering Company in order to obtain an improper business advantage and win the PMU Contract.”

UPDATE: The Halbert indictment includes this quote from an email allegedly sent be Halbert to Frank James Lyon March 21, 2016: "You don't think people in the Government questions why I have a long term contract with Lyon? You don't understand how hard I work from my side to protect you and your contract."

UPDATE: The PMU was previously managed by GMP Hawaii, Inc, a company owned by Wagdy Guirguis.  Guirguis was convicted of tax evasion in Honolulu Federal Court, November, 2018.  The Public Information Office of the FSM Government reported in March, 2008:  

Management of the IDP PMU was previously contracted to GMP, Hawaii, Inc. However, in April 2007, the US Government informed the FSM Government that US Compact funds could not be used to fund any additional task orders under the contract between FSM and GMP after May 17, 2007. This action followed a report by the US Department of Interior Office of Inspector General that was critical of the GMP contract on the grounds that it contained conflicts of interest and questionable procurement provisions. There had also been concerns raised by both the FSM and US Government about the pace, quality and cost of IDP implementation. As a result of the US decision the FSM Government could not certify the availability of funds and thus no new work could be undertaken by GMU under the PMU contract. Therefore the FSM Government informed GMP that its contract had expired.

In 2014 Halbert was tried in FSM courts for falsifying his academic record from the University of Washington in order to award himself a $173,614.56 ‘professional premium’  taken from FSM and FAA projects.  '‘Crim. Case No. 2014-501; FSM v. Master Halbert” can be found on internet discussion board Micronesia Forum, and The Wayback Machine, but it has been stripped from the FSM Supreme Court website.  An extensive 2016 discussion on Micronesia Forum titled, “Massy Halbert resigns from National Government...and then he goes on a trip funded by the government representing TC&I”, reveals the case was dropped as part of a plea agreement. 

UPDATE: Much of the federal indictment unsealed in Honolulu deals with Halbert soliciting bribe money from Lyon to pay the fine imposed in the FSM plea agreement. 

Halbert’s name also pops up on the list of witnesses who could be called to testify in a civil suit filed September 28, 2016, by former Lyon Associates President Ronald Gonzales.

According to the Lyon indictment, “’Co-Conspirator 2,’ an individual whose identity is known to the United States, was a United States citizen who resided in the Federated States of Micronesia (“FSM").”  UPDATE: In the Halbert indictment the  designation 'Co-conspirator 1' apparently refers to the same person.

Also outstanding from the Lyon indictment is: "’Micronesian Official 2,’ an individual whose identity is known to the United States, was a government official in the FSM Congress who served on a congressional committee with oversight over Engineering Company's FSM contracts.”  (UPDATE: No other Micronesian officials are mentioned in the Halbert indictment.)

Records from the FSM Congress show $506K to fund ‘the newly restructured’ PMU was approved May 11, 2016.

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