We had a different post planned for today (one on trends to look for in 2011, which include international cooperation), but the ruling of London appeals court takes priority. According to Law360, a London appeals court decided Jeffrey Tesler, a UK lawyer charged by the DOJ with paying more than $132 million from a former Halliburton subsidiary to Nigerian government officials to secure $6 billion in natural gas contracts should be extradited to the U.S. Information on the U.S. case against Tesler may be found on the DOJ’s Fraud Section FCPA website.
Previously, a co-defendant, Wojciech J. Chodan, also a UK citizen and a former vice president and consultant to a UK subsidiary of Kellogg, Brown & Root Inc. (KBR Inc.) was extradited from the UK and pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate the FCPA. According to the plea agreement, Chodan was intimately involved in a decade-long conspiracy to bribe Nigerian government officials in order to obtain and retain engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contracts for Bonny Island, Nigeria, liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects. KBR Inc., Technip, Snamprogetti and an unnamed Japanese company formed a joint-venture that was awarded EPC contracts by Nigeria LNG Ltd. to build LNG facilities on Bonny Island. Chodan admitted he and his co-conspirators agreed to pay bribes to senior Nigerian government officials to obtain and retain the EPC contracts.
Chodan further admitted he recommended and agreed to the joint-venture’s hiring of two agents, Tesler and the Japanese company, to pay the bribes. Over the course of the scheme, approximately US$182 million in bribes were paid. At crucial junctures during the scheme, Chodan and others met with senior Nigerian government officials so the officials could designate individuals with whom the joint-venture should negotiate bribes.
At sentencing Chodan faces a maximum of five years in prison, a criminal fine of US$250,000 or twice the gain or loss realized from the illegal conduct, and three years of supervised release. Chodan agreed, in his plea agreement, to forfeit US$726,885 from frozen Swiss accounts.
Stay tuned for developments on the Tesler extradition and prosecution.