UK man guilty of bribing Nigerian officials

10 December 2010

10 December 2010 | Lindsay Clark

A UK citizen has pleaded guilty to bribery charges in a US court case relating to procurement contracts in Nigeria.

Wojciech Chodan, a former commercial vice-president and consultant to a UK subsidiary of engineering firm Kellogg, Brown & Root (KBR), pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) for his part in a scheme to bribe Nigerian government officials to obtain engineering, procurement and construction contracts, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) said.

The deals to build liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities on Bonny Island, Nigeria, were valued at more than $6 billion (£3.8 billion).

Chodan, 72, was extradited from the UK to the United States on 3 December, and pleaded guilty earlier this week in US District Court in Houston before Judge Keith Ellison to one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA. He now faces a maximum penalty of 60 months in prison on the conspiracy charge. As part of his plea agreement, Chodan agreed to forfeit $726,885 (£459,228).

According to the DoJ, KBR along with other engineering firms Technip, Snamprogetti and a Japanese engineering and construction company were part of a four-company joint venture that was awarded four contracts by Nigeria LNG between 1995 and 2004 to build LNG facilities on Bonny Island.

Chodan admitted that from 1994 to 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 these contracts.

The DoJ said Chodan and his co-conspirators met with successive holders of a top-level office in the executive branch of the Nigerian government at crucial junctures preceding the award of EPC contracts, to ask the office holders to designate a representative with whom the joint venture should negotiate the bribes to Nigerian government officials.

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