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Following foreign payoff inquiry, PBSJ leader to step down as CEO

The boss of Tampa's PBSJ Corp., a major engineering firm that is among Florida's biggest government contractors, will step down as chief executive.

John Zumwalt, 58, announced the decision in a letter last week to employees, weeks after disclosures about an internal investigation into a subsidiary's possible illegal payoffs in foreign countries.

"After a decade of my executive leadership through the best of times and through difficult times, it is now time to plan for an orderly transition to a new CEO," Zumwalt wrote. He will continue as chairman of PBSJ's board of directors and remain as chief executive until a replacement is found, which will be no later than Sept. 30.

A company employee since 1973 and executive for the past decade, Zumwalt decided to give up the job as part of a strategic plan released last year, said C.L. Conroy, a spokeswoman. His departure was announced in advance of a shareholder meeting next week, she said.

Conroy said the move "has nothing to do" with news of the bribery allegations revealed by the company in a Dec. 30 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The company's board is investigating whether subsidiary PBS&J International violated any laws, including the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, in connection with projects "in certain foreign countries." The act forbids payoffs to receive or keep business.

PBSJ said in a subsequent filing that the investigation "does not suggest that any violation extends beyond the international operations or that members of our executive management were involved in the illegal conduct."

PBSJ moved its headquarters to Tampa from Miami in 2006 amid a widely reported $36 million embezzling scheme.

The employee-owned company provides infrastructure planning, engineering, construction management, architecture and program management services to government and private clients.

Steve Huettel can be reached at huettel@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3384.

Following foreign payoff inquiry, PBSJ leader to step down as CEO 02/03/10 [Last modified: Thursday, February 4, 2010 7:08am]
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