Can’t make this stuff up, folks.

According to Women’s Wear Daily, Dooney & Bourke chairman and co-founder Frederic Bourke has been sentenced to a year and a day in federal prison for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and Travel Act by bribing Azerbaijani oil officials.

Who knew that being rich from selling mid-range handbags could eventually get you in so much trouble with your money? And wouldn’t it have been more fun to be arrested for, I don’t know, buying a bunch of drugs and expensive call girls like the rest of the rich people in this country?

I kid, of course, but here’s what happened. Bourke invested part of his handbag fortune (to the tune of $8 million) into a company called Oily Rock Group Ltd., which sought to profit when the Azerbaijani state-run oil company was eventually privatized via the purchase of privatization vouchers from the public.

The company then allegedly paid millions of dollars in bribes to government officials in order to ensure that the oil holdings were indeed privatized, and apparently both our government and theirs frown on that sort of thing. The oil never got privatized, Bourke never profited, and now he’s supposed to spend a year in the clink, to add insult to injury.

Whatever benevolent legal authority presided over the case has seen fit to release Bourke on $10 million bail, pending his appeal on the verdict, which only goes to show you that the rich really are different than the rest of us – they don’t have to go to jail when they’ve been convicted of a crime and sentenced to go there. They get to sit at home and reap the benefits of their handbag business while they wait and see if their lawyers can get them out of it.

Ok, so that was probably way harsh, but someone had to say it. If you disagree with me and feel like being supportive of Bourke, or perhaps you want to help him pay his legal fees, you can find Dooney & Bourke bags here. And if he’s really innocent, then I hope they figure that out quickly. Let it be a lesson to all of us – sinking millions into questionable oil holding companies that have shadowy relationships with foreign governments might get you in some trouble down the road, and all the handbags in the world can’t save you. Except that the profits from them can pay your lawyer fees, so maybe they can.

Share Your Thoughts With Us

  • Terryl


    I don’t even have anything constructive to say. Just…

    Whoa. =/

  • Handbag Lover

    WOW! That’s a trip!

  • 19yearslater

    Geez! That’s crazy. I really like that Hayden bag, though. If it were still available I might pick one up.

  • JenG

    I love D&B bags! Bourke need to stick to his day job.

  • Sher77

    I have never bought a D&B bag.This is a crazy story. It sounds like he was involved in a very shady deal. I do think the leather they use in some of their higher priced bags is beautiful. I’m a bag snob and would rather put money in more expensive bags.

  • Merve

    Well no one should buy a bag from them now. I think its despicable to attempt to profit from the industry of poorer countries while enhancing corruption.

    • sol

      rightly said

    • JW

      Couldn’t agree more. They deserve the punishment for being greedy and corrupted (and if they ever benefited from the deal, the sentence should be much harsher!). No sympathy from me, and I’ll never support their products (not that I ever found them appealing anyway).

      • tfw

        These aren’t quite all the facts, sorry. Bourke may be rich, but in this case, he isn’t really “different than the rest of us.” He was released upon bail, before any sentencing, just as anybody going through our justice system has the right to. At first, back in the 1990s, this investment prospect did not look like such a bad idea (and he was not the one running it). Bourke had lawyers look into the deal to find if it would be legitimate, and it was. His intent was not to get into a shady deal, rather it was a deal he thought would be profitable and legal. In fact, when he found out that the bad intent of this investment company (led by Victor Kozeny aka ‘the pirate of prague’), Bourke went back to Azerbaijan at great personal risk to explain this to the president of the country. Then he went came and told the FBI, blowing the whistle on the operation. Then the FBI turned around and indicted him.
        Bourke was not the only person involved in the deal, and not the only person who lost money because of the shady dealing of Kozeny. This article says he stayed at home reaping the benefits of his handbag company…more what he did was compile his defense, and which is fair. And he has done more than just handbags; he does not see to any of the operations of D&B anymore, but has set up other businesses with respects to the environment and a brilliant attempt to cure cancer.
        So for all of you reading this article, it is extremely biased, giving only one side of the story and projecting an opinion off of that. Get all of the facts first.

  • The Girl in Grey

    Let’s hope he can think up some amazing bags while he’s in the slammer, well that is unless he doesn’t survive….I’m only kidding. (:

  • Alex

    You guys are so fucken stupid, that’s the media you listening too what you should do is actually research on exactly why than go and blame someone. Why do we have so many stupid Americans that always believe the media?

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