John Borchert

John Witherspoon Borchert was a trial attorney in the US Department of Justice's Foreign Corrupt Practice Act unit. He left the unit in January 2017 for another position within the Justice Department.

Borchert joined the criminal division's fraud section in early 2012. He worked previously in the fraud, public corruption and national security sections and the appellate division at the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.

As an assistant US attorney, Borchert gained experience prosecuting international corruption. In 2010, he was on the trial team that won convictions against two former humanitarian aid workers in Liberia, Morris B Fahnbulleh and Joe O Bondo, who defrauded the US Agency for International Development of US$1.9 million. The case involved a USAID grant awarded in 2005, following Liberia's 14-year civil war. The non-governmental organisation that received the grant, World Vision, found after an internal audit that nearly 91 per cent of the food it intended to distribute never reached the people. The trial team showed that the defendants sold the food and pocketed the proceeds, then instructed World Vision employees to falsify documents to cover up their crimes.

In January 2012, Borchert helped successfully prosecute Rudolf Cheung, a Massachusetts resident who pleaded guilty to conspiring to illegally ship military antennae to Singapore and Hong Kong. Cheung was head of research and development at a private company that manufactured the antennae.

Borchert also helped bring an indictment against Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, a 21 year-old Idahoian, charged in January 2012 with attempting to assassinate President Barack Obama. The charges stemmed from a November 2011 incident in which Ortega-Hernandez fired shots at the White House.

At the FCPA unit, Borchert worked on the prosecution of former Louis Berger International executives – Richard Hirsch, 61, of Makati, Philippines, and James McClung, 59, of Dubai, United Arab Emirates – who pleaded guilty in 2015 to one count of conspiring to violate the FCPA, as well as one substantive count of violating the FCPA. The pair were sentenced in July 2016.

Meanwhile, Louis Berger agreed to pay US$17.1 million and retain an independent corporate monitor to resolve charges it bribed foreign officials in India, Indonesia, Vietnam and Kuwait in exchange for government construction contracts.

Borchert also worked on a case against four employees of a South Carolina-based adoption agency accused of paying bribes to Ethiopian officials for fraudulent adoptions. Although the case concerns foreign bribery – the officials worked for government-owned schools in Ethiopia and the payments to them were made for alleged business advantage – the defendants were charged instead with conspiring to defraud the US.

Three of the defendants pleaded guilty to participating in the alleged fraud scheme: James Harding of Atlanta, Mary Mooney of Belmont, and Alisa Bivens of Gastonia. 

The situation regarding a fourth defendant, Ethiopian national Haile Mekonnen, is unclear.

Get unlimited access to all Global Investigations Review content