In March this year, in a federal courtroom in Houston, Jeffrey Tesler, 62, stood before Judge Keith P. Ellison, left, and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and a substantive FCPA count.
Through counsel, the former London lawyer, KBR middleman, and FCPA fugitive said yes, he’d helped pay massive bribes to Nigerian officials on behalf of KBR and the other TSKJ partners. And he agreed to the biggest FCPA-related forfeiture by an individual and third biggest FCPA disgorgement overall — $149 million.
Then came the moment when Judge Ellison spoke directly to Tesler.
* * *
THE COURT: Mr. Tesler, you seem like such an unlikely person to be here.
THE DEFENDANT: I agree with that assumption.
THE COURT: Was it just everybody was doing this?
THE DEFENDANT: I think that’s a fair comment.
THE COURT: Where is your family, sir?
THE DEFENDANT: My family is — my wife and one daughter live in London, England and my other daughter lives in Israel.
THE COURT: You have joint Israeli-English citizenship?
THE DEFENDANT: I have a U.K. passport — I have an Israel travel document, which I think is pretty close to citizenry, but I don’t think it is actually the same.
THE COURT: Is there anything more you would like to say or anything more you would like to ask us, Mr. Tesler?
THE DEFENDANT: Not at this time, Your Honor. . . . .
THE COURT: After hearing everything you have heard, Mr. Tesler, do you wish to plead guilty or not guilty to Counts One and Two of the indictment filed on or about February 17, 2009?
THE DEFENDANT: I do, Your Honor.
THE COURT: You wish to plead guilty?
THE DEFENDANT: I do, yes, Your Honor.
THE COURT: Based on the testimony and based on the plea agreement, the Court finds the defendant is competent and represented by competent counsel. There is an adequate factual basis for the plea, and the plea is knowing and voluntary. The Court does find and hold that the defendant is guilty of Counts One and Two of the indictment filed on or about February 17, 2009.
* * *
Jeffrey Tesler is free on $50,000 bond. Sentencing is set for February 2, 2012. He faces up to ten years in prison.