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Tesler Plea Expected Today

Jeffrey Tesler, the British lawyer accused of helping KBR and its partners bribe Nigerian officials, will plead guilty in Houston federal court Friday, according to his lawyer.

The AP said Telser’s lawyer wouldn’t specify what counts would be included in the plea.

Telser, 62, a U.K citizen, was indicted in February 2009. He was charged with one count of conspiracy to violate and ten counts of violating the FCPA.

His lawyers signaled in February that their client was working on a plea deal and planned to travel to the United States this month.

In January, the British High Court affirmed a decision to send Tesler to Houston to answer criminal charges in U.S. federal court. He faces up to 55 years in prison and forfeiture of more than $132 million.

The DOJ alleges that the four-party TSKJ joint venture paid $132 million to a Gibraltar corporation controlled by Tesler, and that the money was then used to bribe Nigerian officials. TSKJ won $6 billion in contracts between 1995 and 2004 to build natural gas processing facilities on Nigeria’s Bonny Island.

The joint venture partners were KBR, Technip S.A., Snamprogetti Netherlands B.V., and JGC, a Japanese engineering and construction company. The DOJ and SEC have recovered $1.28 billion in FCPA-related penalties and disgorgement from them — $579 million from KBR and its parent Halliburton, $365 million from Snamprogetti and its parent ENI, and $338 million from Technip. The final TSKJ partner, JGC, said in January it has reserved around $220 million for an expected settlement with U.S. authorities.

Last month, KBR’s wholly-owned subsidiary, M.W. Kellogg Limited, settled civil corruption charges with the U.K. Serious Fraud Office. It will pay £7 million ($11.2 million) in a civil disgorgement for its role in the Bonny Island project.

Tesler’s co-defendant, Wojciech Chodan, a former KBR / Kellogg executive in the U.K., pleaded guilty in December last year to one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA. Chodan, who holds a Polish passport, is set to be sentenced on April 27.

Former KBR CEO Albert “Jack” Stanley pleaded guilty in Houston in 2008 to a two-count criminal information charging him with conspiracy to violate the FCPA and to commit mail and wire fraud. He’s free on bail until at least March 30. His 84-month prison sentence is subject to review based on his cooperation with enforcement agencies. He was also ordered to pay $10.8 million in restitution.

Download the indictment in U.S. v. Jeffrey Tesler, et al (Court Docket Number: 09-CR-098) here.

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