The sum of $266,000 does not seem like very much in the budget of a big company, but it might be enough to send at least one former salesperson at ITXC (now known as VSNL Enterprise Solutions) to prison. The federal justice department alleges that ITXC, based on College Road East, paid about $266,000 in what is termed "illegal commissions" for contracts to provide Internet phone services to three countries in Africa.
Yaw Osei Amoako, 55, pleaded guilty in a criminal trial in Trenton on one count of violating the anti-bribery provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the Travel Act. Judge Garrett E. Brown could sentence Amoako, a Hillsborough resident, to as much as five years in prison and a $250,000 fine; sentencing date is Monday, December 11, at 1 p.m.
Apparently Amoako implicated two of his supervisors, Steven Ott and Roger Michael Young. Ott and Young must now defend themselves against a civil suit; they are accused of falsely recording bribes as legitimate business expenses.
Prosecutors had put the civil case on hold until a guilty plea agreement was negotiated with Amoako.
Ott had no comment. Reached at his office at Princeton Meadows Office Center, where he is working at a new company, CMWare, Ott referred calls to his attorney, Kevin Hart of Stark & Stark, who also had no comment.
The government is represented by James McMahon and Mark F. Mendelsohn, deputy chiefs, and trial attorney Mary K. Dimke of the Criminal Division's fraud section.
According to the SEC, ITXC allegedly earned $11.5 million in net profit thanks to the contracts approved by Ott and Young.
Amoako had been employed as an ITXC regional manager for Africa from 1999 to 2004. His job was to negotiate and obtain contracts in Africa, as well as to hire third-party sales agents in African countries. According to the press release, "Amoako conspired with other former ITXC employees and officers to make payments to employees of foreign-state owned telecommunications carriers and employees of foreign-owned carriers so that those employees would use their influence to assist ITXC in obtaining and retaining contracts with the foreign carriers."
Amoako named Ott and Young as co-conspirators in offering to pay employees commissions based on the amount of traffic that ITXC received from the contract the employee helped award to ITXC. The employees worked for state-owned companies and were therefore government officials. Amoako has said that the commissions, totaling $266,000, went to companies owned by the Nigerian, Rawandan, and Senegalese governments, with the majority ($166,000) going to Nigeria.
The listed charges do not include the company's founder, Tom Evslin, who could not be reached for comment. ITXC was founded in 1997 to provide telecommunication services, primarily Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services, to carriers across the globe. It went public in 1999 and in 2004 was sold to a Canadian firm, Teleglobe, and then to Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (VSNL).
"There are two ways of doing business, the local company's way, and the U.S. way," says Sergio Heker, founder of various businesses including an Internet Service Provider firm and, most recently, an IT security firm, Glesec, which focuses on Latin America. "In the U.S. we operate by the book, which is a lot more expensive and it makes us less competitive. But we cannot change the way the way other people do business."
Other observers of the former ITXC also find it hard to believe that the firm could be embroiled in such a scandal. One source, who did not wish to be identified, notes that the irregularities surfaced when Teleglobe bought ITXC. Typically, says this source, the acquiring company's attorneys make it their business to ferret out any possible problems and report them.
VSNL Enterprise Solutions, (ITXC), 750 College Road East, Princeton 08540; 609-750-3333; fax, 609-419-1511. www.itxc.com
APN Consulting Inc., 475 Wall Street, Princeton 08540; 609-924-3400; fax, 609-924-1671. Vedant Pathak, president. www.apnconsultinginc.com
In 2002 Vedant Pathak, who emigrated to New Jersey seven years ago, founded an IT staffing solutions and consulting firm, moving from a home office to Research Park earlier this year. Now he has a total of 45 employees, mostly working at client sites. Sales people and recruiters make up the 10-person headquarters staff.
Pathak grew up in Delhi, where his father worked in the public sector, and he majored in chemistry, graduating in 1989 from Delhi University, He had worked in India for such Fortune 100 companies as Mastec and Sonata software. He and his wife have two school-aged daughters.
His clients are in New Jersey, New York, Philadelphia, Virginia, and in such industries as pharmaceutical, insurance, accounting, and financial. "We will do no offshore outsourcing for the next two years," he says. "My core competency is in recruiting."
On a project basis he hires programmers, system administrators, developers, project managers, and health insurance is provided. "Last year we hit $1 million in revenue and this year we should be from $4 million to $5 million," says Pathak. "The market is going strong."
New in Town
Princeton Nanotechnology Systems, 11 Deer Park Drive, Suite 102A, Monmouth Junction 08852; 732-355-9550; fax, 732-355-9554. Rich Skibo, principal. www.pntsystems.com
This San Jose-based firm opened in an office at Princeton Corporate Plaza earlier this year. It works on nano-machines for mobile detection systems.
Soroban Partners, 25A Jefferson Plaza, Princeton 08540; 732-274-0700; fax, 732-274-0999. Kevin Kohler, partner. Home page: www.sorobanpartners.com
Soroban Partners, an executive search firm specializing in finance and accounting, opened recently at Jefferson Plaza. The two partners, who have close to 30 years of recruiting experience between them, chose Princeton because of its central location, the presence of many small and large businesses, and what partner Kevin Kohler terms, "great candidates."
Kohler, a graduate of Upsala College, worked in accounting and finance jobs at Continental Can Company, and had a controller's position in Trenton. He has six years recruiting experience with a CPA firm in Edison and with a small office in Princeton. He says he uses the interviewing and hiring experience acquired as a controller in selecting the candidates he sends to clients - as if he was hiring the candidate for his own staff.
An alumnus of Brooklyn College, Fred Fishman has worked with national accounting placement firms and a boutique healthcare financial placement firm.
G2H Ace Hardware, 10 Schalks Crossing Road, Plainsboro Plaza, Plainsboro 08536; 609-275-9800; fax, 609-275-9809. George Pouhar, owner. Home page: www.acehardware.com
G2H Ace Hardware recently opened in Plainsboro with a staff of about 15.
American Heart Association, 1 Union Street, Suite 301, Robbinsville 08902-4301; 609-208-0020; fax, 609-208-2906. Ed Remson, regional VP (Northern Jersey). Home page: www.americanheart.org
The American Heart Association moved from 2550 Route 1 in North Brunswick to Robbinsville. It focuses on research and cardiovascular health education.
Law Offices of Arthur E. Jackson, 146 Tamarack Circle, Skillman 08558; 609-688-1919; fax, 908-847-0446.
Arthur E. Jackson, an attorney with expertise in patents and technology transfer, moved recently from 57 Hamilton Avenue, in Hopewell, to Skillman.
Princeton Wireless, 800 Denow Road, Suite D, Pennington 08534; 609-730-9393.
Princeton Wireless closed its office at the Pennington Shopping Center, 25 Route 31, and relocated to 800 Denow Road.
AstaTech Inc., 2525 Pearl Buck Road, Keystone Business Park, Bristol 19007; 215-785-3197; fax, 215-785-2856. Paul Guo, president. www.AstaTechInc.com
AstaTech USA has relocated its headquarters from 1 Deer Park Drive, Monmouth Junction, to Bristol, Pennsylvania, after purchasing its own building. With subsidiaries in Canada and China, AstaTech offers advanced and novel intermediates for worldwide pharmaceutical, biotech and agrochemical drug research and development. It has labs in Chengdu, China, and Ontario, Canada.
Kelly/Waldron Co., 8 Commerce Way, Gateway I-95 Business Park, Hamilton 08691.
The healthcare database marketing firm, a fully-owned subsidiary of McKesson/HBOC Corp., moved to Horsham, Pennsylvania (215-347-6800 or 800-982-5613).
Founded in 1992, Kelly/Waldron was sold to McKesson in 1998. The former Kelly/Waldron is now part of Verispan, which was founded by a joint venture between Quintiles and McKesson. It has a proprietary database on allied healthcare practitioners. The corporate address is 800 Township Line Road, Suite 125, Yardley PA 19067.
Solutionnet International Inc. (SLNN), 731 Alexander Road, Suite 210, Princeton 08540; 609-452-2292; fax, 609-452-2293. Prabhuram Ramanathan, vice president. Home page: www.solutionnet.net
Solutionnet, a public company offering IT outsourcing, has closed its office at 731 Alexander Road.
The phone number is not in service, and no other phone number is available. However the company's website continues to list this address, along with offices in California, Delaware, Maine, and Texas and seven overseas locations. Deutsche Bank and CitiBank are listed as among its clients. According to the website, three jobs are open in Chennai, India, and one job in Portland, Maine.
Christy Stephenson, CEO of RWJ Hospital at Hamilton (U.S. 1, February 15, 2006), will retire on January 1.
Julia H. Fulmer, 70, on August 19. The wife of architect Thomas S. Fulmer, she had worked at Kepner-Tregoe on Research Road.
Robert L. Nady, 38, on September 1. He was a mechanic for Al's Sunoco Service.
Margaret Haviland 52, on September 2. She was a chemical operator at Integra Life Sciences on Enterprise Drive.
Tony DeNicola, 79, on September 2. A professional drummer, he was a professor at the College of New Jersey.
Jesse F. Pariso, 82, on September 2. He founded Pariso Research, a marketing research firm for the wall-covering field.