Adoption executive pleads guilty to Ethiopia scam
Washington - A former executive with a US-based international adoption agency which sought to connect American families with Ethiopian children has admitted to fraud, a US justice department statement said on Wednesday.
Alisa Bivens, the former foreign programme director of international adoption guides (IAG), an adoption agency in North and South Carolina, pleaded guilty to bribing foreign officials and submitting fraudulent documents to the US state department regarding adoptions from Ethiopia.
Bivens, aged 42, and other co-conspirators, filed false documentation including contracts of adoption signed by orphanages in Ethiopia even though some of the children had never stayed in nor been cared for by the orphanages involved.
Bivens also admitted bribing two Ethiopian officials in order to secure their assistance in facilitating the fraudulent adoptions.
One of the officials, a teacher at a government school was given cash and other valuables in order to provide non-public medical information and social history information for potential adoptees.
The second official, the head of a regional ministry for women's and children's affairs in Ethiopia, took money and expenses-paid foreign trips in exchange for waving through IAG's applications for inter-country adoptions.
Bivens will be sentenced at a later date, the justice department said.