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Tampa firm PBSJ Corp. investigates subsidiary on suspicion of bribery

A prominent Florida engineering firm and major government contractor, Tampa's PBSJ Corp., is coming off a series of corporate stumbles from campaign contribution miscues and internal embezzlement only to run into new questions over the way it conducts business overseas.

In a filing dated Dec. 30 with the Securities and Exchange Commission, PBS&J said its board of directors is internally investigating whether any bribery laws have been violated, including the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, in connection with projects undertaken by subsidiary PBS&J International Inc. "in certain foreign countries." The company said it must delay filing its 2009 annual report to the SEC pending the investigation's outcome.

Last year, PBS&J's woes involved iffy campaign contribution practices. A Federal Election Commission report made public last month says PBS&J regularly made illegal campaign contributions. Investigators concluded that "political contributions were an important part of PBS&J's business strategy" and that "the practice of making illegal campaign contributions involved officers at all levels of the company and was not limited to a few rogue employees."

Investigators said chief executive John Zumwalt admitted that checks "made payable to them by a PBS&J subsidiary were reimbursement checks for political contributions." Such reimbursements are illegal.

PBS&J relocated its headquarters to Tampa from Miami in 2006 amid a widely reported $36 million embezzlement scheme. The employee-owned company provides infrastructure planning, engineering, construction management, architecture and program management services to public and private clients. The firm has nearly 3,900 employees and more than 80 offices.

Tampa firm PBSJ Corp. investigates subsidiary on suspicion of bribery 01/08/10 [Last modified: Friday, January 8, 2010 10:01pm]
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