New VECO leader: Ethics is a priority

Armel distances himself from service company's convicted founder

Posted: Friday, June 08, 2007

ANCHORAGE - The new chief executive of VECO Corp. says high ethical standards are his first concern.

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Dan Armel on Wednesday distanced himself from the man who built the Anchorage-based company into an international firm but has pleaded guilty to federal charges of bribing Alaska legislators.

"Bill Allen, an admitted felon, no longer has anything to do with the ongoing operations of VECO," he said.

Allen's family still owns a majority of the Anchorage oil field services and construction company. Three of Allen's children are on the board and his daughter is chairwoman, he said.

"My job is first and foremost to make sure that this company - or whatever is continuing to go on with respect to the federal investigation - is running itself appropriately and with the highest degree of ethics," Armel said.

Armel's hiring was announced this week.

Allen and company vice president Rick Smith pleaded guilty May 7 to bribery, extortion and conspiracy. Both have resigned from the company and are cooperating with investigators. The case is linked to the indictment of three current or former state lawmakers.

VECO signed Armel for three months as chief executive. He may stay longer, he said.

Armel is a former banker. According to his resume, he frequently helps businesses through refinancings or sales.

Colorado-based CH2M Hill is negotiating to buy VECO. Armel said he has no idea how likely the sale is but both sides are eager to close a sale.

He described himself as someone who knows right from wrong. He said he likes helping corporations through troubled times.

"It's a very well run company at the operating level," he said of VECO.

Armel said that Allen and Smith were the only two company people he knows who were involved in the scandal.

"Well, it might be others, but at the moment, as far as I know what we have is a situation where there were two people who were very proactively involved."

In his plea agreement, Allen says he gave bonuses to VECO executives with the understanding those executives would contribute to political campaigns. Armel said he talked with those executives.

"They don't think that they did what Bill says they did, and the Department of Justice doesn't have any evidence to support what Bill says," Armel said.

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