The Dos and Don’ts of Preparing a Cooperating Witness

As the recent trial of PetroTiger’s former CEO Joseph Sigelman demonstrated, a problematic cooperating witness can derail the government’s case against a defendant charged with FCPA violations.  In that case, shortly after the government’s star witness admitted to perjury on the stand, Sigelman and the government agreed to a plea that reportedly made Sigelman’s lawyers “ecstatic.”  How can prosecutors and defense attorneys help avoid such catastrophes during trial?  In a guest article, Richard Bistrong, a former sales executive who was accused of bribing foreign officials to obtain contracts for his employer, a defense contractor, shares lessons he learned from serving as a cooperating witness.  Bistrong cooperated with the government for two-and-half years, recording thousands of phone calls and meetings.  He prepared for trial for over three months, and testified for nearly a month.  He subsequently served 14 months in prison.  See also “What Does the PetroTiger Case Mean for FCPA Compliance?  Sigelman’s Attorneys and Other Experts Weigh In,” The FCPA Report, Vol. 4, No. 13 (Jun. 24, 2015).

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