In Seon Lim, a former contracting official for the U.S. Department of the Army, has been sentenced to four years in prison for his role in a scheme in which he accepted over $490,000 worth of benefits, including cash payments and vacations, from favored contractors. In return, he helped these businesses obtain millions of dollars in federal contracts.
Lim, 48, of Fairfax Station, Va., also known as InSeon Lim, pled guilty in July 2014 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to three offenses: conspiracy to commit bribery and honest services wire fraud; bribery; and attempting to interfere with and impede tax laws.
Upon completion of his prison term, Lim will be placed on three years of supervised release. He also must pay restitution, including $250,000 to the Department of Defense and nearly $125,000 to the IRS. In addition, he must pay a forfeiture money judgment of $490,262.
Lim is among 18 individuals and one corporation, Nova Datacom, LLC, to plead guilty to federal charges in an investigation that uncovered the largest domestic bribery and bid-rigging scheme in the history of federal contracting cases. Overall, participants in the scheme stole over $30 million in government money through inflated and fictitious invoices.
According to a statement of offense, signed by Lim as well as the government, Lim was a public official until April 2012. The charges involve his activities as an assistant project manager and product director with the Program Executive Office Enterprise Information Systems, a part of the Army that provides infrastructure and informational management systems.
Until June 2010, Lim resided and worked in Seoul, South Korea. While in South Korea, his primary duties were to oversee and implement communications systems upgrades for the U.S. forces there, which included approximately 10 communications centers and various other special projects at military sites throughout the country. Among other things, Lim coordinated work on a major contract, which, in turn, had numerous sub-contracts.
From June 2010 until his resignation in April 2012, Lim worked as a product director at Fort Belvoir, Va.
In the statement of offense, Lim admits that he secretly used his official position to enrich himself by soliciting and accepting gifts, payments and other things of value from government contractors—totaling more than $490,000—in return for favorable official action. Among other things, the statement of offense notes, Lim received payments personally and to accounts that he controlled; payments for travel, vacation, vehicles, cellphones and cellular service for himself and family members; ownership interests in two companies, and other benefits.
In exchange, Lim now admits, he provided favorable official action on subcontracts obtained and retained by the favored government contractors as requested and as opportunities arose. He also disclosed confidential bid information to the favored government contractors.
“This Army official sold the public trust for a half-million dollars in bribes,” said U.S. Attorney Machen. “Lim is now headed to prison along with many other corrupt officials and government contractors brought down in this sweeping investigation. His fate is a warning shot for other government officials tempted to sell out the American people to line their own pockets that they should think twice. The prison sentences handed out in this case make clear that government officials and business people who corrupt the contracting process put their own freedom at risk.”
“In his role as a federal contracting officer, In Seon Lim betrayed the trust that was placed in him by fellow citizens by taking bribes in exchange for providing favorable action on government contracts,” said Assistant Director in Charge McCabe. “The FBI, with our partners, will continue to investigate and expose fraudulent kickback schemes that tarnish the good and ethical work that procurement officers carry out on behalf of the U.S. government each and every day.”
“The kickback scheme in which In Seon Lim participated disrespected the hard work and dedication of thousands of government employees who are committed to providing honest services in the federal contracting process,” said Special Agent in Charge Kelly. “IRS-Criminal Investigation stands committed to weeding out individuals, who abuse the privilege of their positions as a public official, for their personal gain.”
The court documents provide details about numerous contracts and payments. For example:
- Nova Datacom: According to the statement of offense, two former employees of the Northern Virginia company—Alex N. Cho, also known as Young N. Cho, and Nick Park—paid Lim $40,000 in cash in 2007. In addition, Park paid for Lim’s travel, lodging, meals and entertainment during a trip to the Philippines in 2007, and Cho paid for Lim’s lodging, $10,000 cash, and a $1,000 casino chip during a trip later that year to Las Vegas. Lim, meanwhile, agreed to use his official position to recommend the company for a contract valued at nearly $330,000.
- Avenciatech:According to the statement of offense, former officials of Avenciatech, Inc., a government contractor based in Annandale, Va., provided Lim with cash payments; payments for hotel stays for Lim and family members, including a trip to the Atlantis resort in the Bahamas; payments to finance the purchase of a 2010 Lexus automobile, and payments for other things of value. One of the officials, Oh Sung Kwon, also known as Thomas Kwon, also assisted Lim in obtaining financing for the purchase of a home in Fairfax Station, Va., where Lim resided following his reassignment in 2010 to a position at Fort Belvoir. Lim, meanwhile, assisted the company in obtaining more than $3 million in contracts.
- UEI: Nick Park left Nova Datacom in 2007 and co-founded another government contractor, Unisource Enterprise Inc. (UEI), based in Annandale, Va. According to the statement of offense, in exchange for favorable treatment, Lim was given a secret ownership in UEI. Among other things, Lim provided Park with sensitive procurement information. He also assisted the company in obtaining a government sub-contract worth over $1.1 million.
Cho, Park, and Kwon are among those who earlier pled guilty to charges in the case.
In addition to pleading guilty to the conspiracy and bribery charges, Lim admitted that he failed to report the bribes he received on tax returns for the years 2007 through 2011. He also failed to keep records that would allow him to file accurate records for 2012 and 2013. Lim was sentenced on Oct. 24, 2014.