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KBR: Nigerians Tell Their Own Story

A new Nigeria-based publication called Next has just posted an article (here) naming some of the officials who took bribes from KBR and its TSKJ joint venture for the $6 billion Bonny Island LNG development project. The story by Dapo Olorunyomi and Mojeed Musiliku names three former presidents among the bribe takers, including Sani Abacha, Abdusalami Abubakar, and Olusegun Obasanjo.

The reporting appears to be based primarily on documents produced during U.S. and French investigations of KBR, TSKJ, Jack Stanley (KBR’s former CEO) and Jeffrey Tesler, an alleged London-based KBR middleman. He was indicted earlier this year by U.S. authorities for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and is being extradited from the U.K.

KBR resolved FCPA charges with the Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission in February, agreeing to pay $579 million in penalties and disgorgement. Jack Stanley pleaded guilty last year to violating the FCPA and faces up to 7 years in prison and a fine of about $11 million. He and KBR admitted paying at least $182 million in bribes for contracts for the Bonny Island project.

Among the details in Next’s story are these:

Having put the Train 1 and 2 contracts in the can, TSKJ turned its gaze on the Train 3 contract. For this, Stanley flew to Abuja again in the second quarter of 1997, with the sole mission of asking Mr. Abacha to recommend a trusted front man to collect his bribe.

Shortly after [Abacha] died on June 8, 1998, Mr.Tesler promptly erased him from the list of bribe beneficiaries, substituting him with the new helmsman, Abdulsalami Abubakar.

To keep the entire scheme on the rails, Stanley flew back to Abuja on February 28, 1999, asking Mr. Abubakar, to recommend a trusted front man to collect his bribe.

Another Nigeria-based publication, Vangard, last week carried an article (here) by Chudi Offodile, a former member of Nigeria’s House of Representatives and Chairman of the House’s Public Petitions Committee from 2003 to 2005, where he was responsible for investigations. After spotting irregularities, he says his committee recommended dropping TSKJ and all its members from the Bonny Island project and other contracts in Nigeria. But, writes Offodile, he was continually stonewalled by high-level politicians.

He tells how his investigation got started and finally ended. He begins this way:

No one would have heard of the Nigeria LNG bribery scandal if not for Georges Krammer, former Director General of the French company, Technip [a TSKJ member]. Krammer was accused of paying 3 million euros in illegal commissions during investigations into Elf-Aquitane operations in Asia and Africa.

Krammer claimed the commissions were legal and in line with company’s policy. Technip management disputed his claims and left him to face charges of misappropriating 3 million euros. Angered by this development, Krammer who had worked for Technip for 35 years, squealed. He went before Judge d’ Instruction Renaud Van Ruymbeke and told him how Technip’s commission payment system worked in Indonesia, Thailand and on the LNG Project in Nigeria.

Thus began the French investigation of the Nigeria LNG project with Renaud Van Ruymbeke in charge. The French investigation triggered off other investigations in Switzerland, the United States, and Nigeria. . . .

These two reports are unusual not only because of the details being disclosed. But also because both publications are reporting from inside Nigeria, in some cases about government officials still in power.
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