United States: FirstEnergy charged in Ohio bribery scheme, agrees to deferred prosecution settlement for $230 million

Akron-based FirstEnergy will pay a $230 million fine for bribing key Ohio officials in a calculated quest to secure a $1 billion ratepayer-funded bailout for two nuclear plants and fend off future rate hikes.

FirstEnergy’s fine – while far from the $1.1 billion the company earned last year – is still the “largest criminal penalty ever collected, as far as anyone can recall, in the history of this office,” acting U.S. Attorney Vipal Patel said Thursday. The penalty surpassed $200 million imposed on Illinois’ ComEd in 2020.

“The principle here is trying to come up with a number that stings but doesn’t annihilate,” Patel said. In fact, FirstEnergy’s stock soared after the three-year deferred prosecution agreement was announced.

The 49-page agreement details how FirstEnergy bought key Ohio public officials – notably former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder and former Public Utilities Commission of Ohio Chairman Sam Randazzo – with millions of dollars funnelled through dark money groups to turn a profit using Ohio ratepayers’ pocketbooks.

The original full article can be found at cincinnati.com

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