by Michael Connor
French engineering firm Technip S.A. agreed to pay a total of $338 million to settle criminal and civil charges brought by U.S. enforcement agencies for its participation in a scheme to bribe Nigerian government officials to obtain more than $6 billion in contracts to build liquefied natural gas facilities on Bonny Island, Nigeria.
The U.S. Justice Department said it filed a deferred prosecution agreement and charged Technip with one count of conspiracy and one count of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Technip will pay $240 million to settle the criminal charges. It will also give up another $98 million in profits to settle civil charges brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The settlement is the latest related to a four-company joint venture – involving Technip, Kellogg Brown & Root Inc. (KBR), and two other companies – that was awarded four contracts by a Nigerian company between 1995 and 2004 to build liquid natural gas facilities on Bonny Island.
According to court documents, Technip authorized the joint venture to hire two agents to pay more than $182 million in bribes to a range of Nigerian government officials, including top-level executive branch officials. A senior executive of Technip, KBR’s former CEO, Albert “Jack” Stanley, and others “met with successive holders of a top-level office in the executive branch of the Nigerian government to ask the office holders to designate a representative with whom the joint venture should negotiate bribes to Nigerian government officials,” prosecutors said.
Under the terms of the deferred prosecution agreement, the Justice Department said it agreed to defer prosecution of Technip for two years. Technip agreed, among other things, “to retain an independent compliance monitor for a two-year period to review the design and implementation of Technip’s compliance program and to cooperate with the department in ongoing investigations.” If Technip abides by the terms of the deferred prosecution agreement, the department will dismiss the criminal information when the term of the agreement expires.
In 2009, KBR and its former parent, Halliburton, agreed to pay a total of $579 million to settle criminal and regulatory charges stemming from the Bonny Island case. KBR also was required to retain an independent compliance monitor for a three-year period to review the design and implementation of its compliance program
KBR’s former CEO, Albert “Jack” Stanley, pleaded guilty in September 2008 to conspiring to violate the FCPA for his participation in the bribery scheme. He is awaiting sentencing.
Including the latest penalties levied against Technip, the Justice Department said, a total of $917 million in criminal and civil penalties have been obtained to date as a result of investigations of the scheme to bribe Nigerian government officials in order to win the Bonny Island contracts.