Ex-KBR executive pleads guilty to Nigerian bribery charge

By Helen Wright07 December 2010

Wojciech Chodan, former commercial vice president of KBR (UK), faces up to five years in prison after pleading guilty to bribing Nigerian government officials to win construction contracts worth over US$ 6 billion on the Bonny Island LNG facilities.

UK citizen Mr Chodan was extradited to the US on 3 December, and pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) on 6 December, according to the US Department of Justice (DoJ).

KBR was part of the four-company TSKJ consortium that won US$ 6 billion of work to construct and extend the Bonny Island liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities in Nigeria.

However the joint venture bribed Nigerian government officials and the companies involved - KBR, Technip, Snamprogetti (now part of Saipem) and JGC - have so far been fined more than US$ 1.28 billion for the FCPA violations.

According to the DoJ, Mr Chodan admitted that "from approximately 1994 through June 2004, he and his co-conspirators agreed to pay bribes to Nigerian government officials, including top-level executive branch officials, in order to obtain and retain the contracts".

Mr Chodan also admitted recommending and agreeing to the joint venture's hiring of two agents, Jeffrey Tesler and a Japanese trading company, to pay the bribes. Mr Tesler was indicted in February 2009 for his role in the scheme, and the US has requested his extradition from the UK.

Mr Chodan said that during the course of the bribery scheme, the joint venture paid approximately US$ 132 million to a Gibraltar corporation controlled by Tesler and more than US$ 50 million to the Japanese trading company.

Mr Chodan was originally charged under the US anti-bribery law on 17 February 2009, but had fought extradition.

His sentencing in the US has been scheduled for 22 February 2011. As part of his plea arrangement, Chodan has already agreed to pay a US$ 0.73 million fine.

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