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Testing Innocence

By now you have probably heard that various Bonny Island bribery defendants were sentenced last week.  As noted in this DOJ release:

Albert Stanley (a former chairman and CEO of Kellogg, Brown & Root, Inc.) was sentenced to 30 months in prison, ordered to serve three years of supervised release and to pay $10.8 million in restitution to KBR, the victim of a separate kickback scheme Stanley engaged in;

Jeffrey Tesler (a U.K. citizen and agent of the TSKJ joint venture at the center of the bribery scheme) was sentenced to 21 months in prison, followed by two years of supervised release, and ordered to pay a $25,000 fine in addition to previously forfeiting approximately $149 million.

Wojciech Chodan (a U.K. citizen and former salesman at KBR’s U.K. subsidiary) was sentenced to 1 year of probation and ordered to pay a $20,000 fine in addition to previously forfeiting approximately $727,000.

The Bonny Island bribery conduct the defendants were charged in was massive in scope and involved a decade-long scheme to bribe Nigerian officials to obtain engineering, procurement and construction contracts at Bonny Island Nigeria valued at more than $6 billion.

As detailed in this previous post, the corporate Bonny Island bribery enforcement actions resulted in approximately $1.6 billion in DOJ/SEC fines and penalties.  The DOJ’s press release announcing the sentences states as follows.  “Today’s prison sentences for Mr. Stanley and Mr. Tesler mark another important step in our prosecution of those responsible for a massive bribery scheme involving engineering, procurement and construction contracts in Nigeria.  These sentences reflect not only the defendants’ illegal acts, but also their substantial cooperation with the government. As a result of this investigation, three individuals have been convicted of FCPA-related crimes, and five companies in four countries have paid substantial penalties and undertaken significant efforts to enhance their compliance programs.  This case shows the importance the department places on putting an end to foreign bribery.”

Two people that probably have not heard of last week’s Bonny Island bribery sentences are Joel Esquenazi and Carlos Rodriguez – two of the defendants in the Haiti Teleco enforcement action.  As noted in this prior post, in October 2011, Esquenazi was sentenced to 15 years in prison and Rodriguez was sentenced to 7 years in prison.

Was the conduct that Esquenazi and Rodriguez engaged in more egregious than the Bonny Island bribery conduct engaged in by Stanley, Tesler, and Chodan?

Not even close.  According to the DOJ, Esquenazi and Rodriguez participated in a scheme in which their employer, Terra Telecommunications Inc. paid $890,000 to shell companies to be used for bribes to Haiti Teleco officials to receive preferred telecommunications rates.

So what did Esquenazi and Rodriguez do to receive a significantly longer sentence than the defendants charged in connection with one of the largest bribery schemes ever under the FCPA?

Esquenazi and Rodriguez tested their innocence.  They exercised their constitutional right to a trial, put the DOJ to its burden of proof, and were convicted by a jury (their appeals are pending).

Professor Ellen Podgor notes in White Collar Innocence:  Irrelevant in the High Stakes Risk Game (here) as follows. “Our existing legal system places the risk of going to trial, and in some cases even being charged with a crime so high, that innocence and guilt no longer become the real considerations;” rather, “maneuvering the system to receive the least onerous consequences may ensure the best result for the accused party, regardless of innocence.”  In the article, Professor Podgor details several stories involving disparate criminal sanctions and states “the real moral of these stories is not whether the punishment was warranted, but rather the appropriateness of the level of risk that one has to take to proceed to trial, and the chilling effect of the high risk caused by the ―trial penalty.”  Podgor notes that “iinnocence becomes irrelevant as the real question becomes whether it is worth the risk of testing an innocence claim.”

Esquenazi and Rodriguez were found guilty by a jury.  However, the greatest factor in their sentences is likely that they tested their innocence.  In contrast, Stanley, Tesler, Chodan pleaded guilty and cooperated (although Tesler and Chodan did fight extradition for several years) and received substantially shorter sentences for engaging in much more egregious conduct.

Is this justice or is this merely knowing how to play a game?  Were Stanley, Tesler, and Chodan sentenced too lightly or were Esquenazi and Rodriguez sentenced too harshly?  What is the message sent to future FCPA individual defendants who might want to test their innocence?

Bonny Island Bribery Statistics

In the DOJ’s recent announcement of the Marubeni Corporation enforcement action (see here), Mythili Raman (Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General) stated as follows.  “With today’s resolution, the department has held accountable all five of the corporations that participated in the massive, decade-long scheme to bribe Nigerian government officials in connection with the so-called Bonny Island project.”  This statement suggests that the Bonny Island enforcement actions may be over save for the sentencing of Albert Stanley (Feb. 23rd), Jeffrey Tesler (Feb. 23rd), and Wojciech Chodan (Feb. 22nd) before Judge Keith Ellison (S.D.Tex.).

If so, the final Bonny Island Bribery statistics are set forth below.  In terms of enforcement agency recoveries the statistics are as follows:  DOJ ($1.3 billion), SEC (400 million), U.K. SFO (11 million).  In addition, the Stanley plea agreement contemplates a $10.8 million in restitution to his former employer.

Some observations.  Of the four TSKJ joint venture partners (KBR, Technip, Samprogetti, and JGC Corp.) only KBR plead guilty to actual criminal charges.  The other three entities (all foreign) resolved alleged FCPA exposure via deferred prosecution agreements.  Of the four joint venture partners, only two (KBR and Technip) were required to engage a compliance monitor.  The two Japanese entities (JGC Corp. and Marubeni Corp.) did not receive a Sentencing Guidelines reduction for cooperation, the other entities did.  Of the five corporate enforcement actions, only two (KBR and Marubeni) involved criminal fine amounts within the guidelines range, the other three corporate enforcement actions involved criminal fines below even the minimum amount suggested by the Guidelines with a range of (30% below the Guidelines range to 20% below the Guidelines range).  Interestingly, JGC Corp., an entity that did not receive cooperation credit, received the “highest” reduction (30%) from the minimum guidelines range.

Because the DOJ’s resolution documents included specific figures for “value of benefit received from improper payments” it is possible to calculate a ratio between the value of benefit received based on improper conduct and the criminal fine amount.  The ratios are as follows.

KBR:  1 to 1.7

Technip: 1 to 1.2

Snamprogetti:  1 to 1.2

JGC Corp. 1 to 1.1

*****

Kellogg Brown & Root LLC / Halliburton Company / KBR Inc. (Feb. 2009)

Attorneys: Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP

DOJ

Entity: Kellogg Brown & Root LLC

Charges: Conspiracy to Violate the FCPA (1 Count), Substantive FCPA  Anti-Bribery Violation (4 Counts)

Resolution Vehicle: Criminal Information and Plea Agreement

Benefit Received From Improper Payments: $235.5 Million

Sentencing Guidelines Range: $376.8 Million – $753.6 Million

Amount of Fine: $402 Million

Monitor: Yes – Three Years

SEC

Entity: Halliburton Company, KBR Inc.

Charges: FCPA Books and Records and Internal Controls Violation (Halliburton Company), Substantive FCPA Anti-Bribery Violation, Aiding and Abetting Halliburton’s FCPA Books and Records and Internal Controls Violation, Knowingly  Falsifying Books and Records and Knowingly Circumventing Internal Controls (KBR  Inc.),

Disgorgement Amount: $177 Million

Technip S.A. (June 2010)

Attorneys: Patton Boggs LLP; Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz

DOJ

Charges: Conspiracy to Violate the FCPA (1 Count), Substantive FCPA Anti-Bribery Violation (1 Count)

Resolution Vehicle: Criminal Information and Deferred Prosecution Agreement (Term – 2 Years)

Value of Benefit Received From Improper Payments: $199 Million

Sentencing Guidelines Range: $318.4 Million – $636.8 Million

Amount of Fine: $240 Million (25% Below Minimum Guidelines Range)

Monitor: Yes – Two Years

SEC

Charges: Substantive FCPA Anti-Bribery Violation, FCPA Books and Records and Internal Controls Violation

Disgorgement Amount: $98 Million

Snamprogetti Netherlands BV, ENI S.p.A (July 2010)

Attorneys: Sullivan & Cromwell LLP

DOJ

Entity: Snamprogetti Netherlands BV

Charges: Conspiracy to Violate the FCPA (1 Count), Aiding and Abetting FCPA Anti-Bribery Violation (1 Count)

Resolution Vehicle: Criminal Information and Deferred Prosecution Agreement (Term 2 Years)

Value of Benefit Received From Improper Payments: $214.3 Million

Sentencing Guidelines Range: $300 Million – $600 Million

Amount of Fine: $240 Million (20% Below Minimum Guidelines Range)

Monitor: No

SEC

Entity: Snamprogetti Netherlands BV, ENI S.p.A.

Charges: Substantive FCPA Anti-Bribery Violation, Knowingly Falsifying Books and Records and Knowingly Circumventing Internal Controls (Snamprogetti Netherlands BV), FCPA Books and Records and Internal Controls Violation (ENI S.p.A.)

Disgorgement Amount: $125 Million

JGC Corporation of Japan (April 2011)

Attorneys: Latham & Watkins

DOJ

Charges: Conspiracy to Violate the FCPA (1 Count), Aiding and Abetting FCPA Anti-Bribery Violation (1 Count)

Resolution Vehicle: Criminal Information and Deferred Prosecution Agreement (Term 2 Years)

Value of Benefit Received From Improper Payments: $195.4 Million.

Sentencing Guidelines Range: $312.6 – $625.2

Amount of Fine: $218.8 Million (30% Below Minimum Guidelines Range)

Monitor: Yes

Marubeni Corporation  (January 2012)

Attorneys: Hughes Hubbard & Reed

DOJ

Charges: Conspiracy to Violate the FCPA (1 Count), Aiding and Abetting FCPA Anti-Bribery Violation (1 Count)

Resolution Vehicle: Criminal Information and Deferred Prosecution Agreement (Term 2 Years)

Value of Benefit Received From Improper Payments: $20 Million – $50 Million

Sentencing Guidelines Range: $54.6 Million – $109.2 Million

Amount of Fine: $54.6 Million

Monitor: Yes.

Albert Jackson Stanley (August 2008)

Attorney: Larry Veselka (Smyser, Kaplan & Veselka LLP)

DOJ

Charges: Conspiracy to Violate the FCPA (1 Count), Conspiracy to Commit Mail and Wire Fraud (1 Count)

Resolution Vehicle: Criminal Information and Plea Agreement

Plea Agreement Contemplates a $10.8 Million Restitution Order (the amount Stanley agreed the victim – his former employer – incurred as a monetary loss because of his conduct)

Plea Agreement Contemplates a Sentence of 84 months (subject to a downward departure for cooperation)

SEC

Charges: Substantive FCPA Anti-Bribery Violation, Knowingly Falsifying Books and Records and Knowingly Circumventing Internal Controls

Permanent Injunction

Jeffrey Tesler (March 2009)

Attorney: Bradley Simon (Simon & Partners LLP)

Charges: Conspiracy to Violate the FCPA (1 Count), Substantive FCPA Anti-Bribery Violations (10 Counts)

Resolution Vehicle:  Plea Agreement as to the Conspiracy Charge and One Substantive FCPA Anti-Bribery Violation.

Plea Agreement contemplates a $149 million forfeiture.

Plea Agreement Contemplates a Sentencing Guidelines Range of 10 Years.

Wojciech Chodan (March 2009)

Attorneys:  Kobre Kim LLP

Charges: Conspiracy to Violate the FCPA (1 Count), Substantive FCPA Anti-Bribery Violations (10 Counts)

Resolution Vehicle: Plea Agreement as to the Conspiracy Charge.

Plea Agreement Contemplates a $726,885 forfeiture.

Plea Agreement Contemplates a Sentencing Guidelines Range of 5 Years.

*****

In addition to the above U.S. enforcement actions, in February 2011, the U.K. Serious Fraud Office brought an enforcement action against M.W. Kellogg Limited (“MKWL”), the entity that originally formed the TSKJ consortium, in which it paid  “just over £7 million [approximately $11.2 million] in recognition of sums it is due to receive which were generated through the criminal activity of third parties.”  MKWL is currently a wholly-owned subsidiary of KBR.

U.S. Bonny Island Bribery Bounty Grows

Few question the U.S. foreign bribery surplus, but it should be asked:  is the US Treasury the best place for fines and penalties when a foreign company bribes a foreign official?

In April 2011, JGC Corp. of Japan formally joined the Bonny Island (Nigeria) bribery club – see here for the prior post.  Some predicted this was the end of the Bonny Island enforcement actions, but I ended the post as follows.  “This may not be the last we hear of Bonny Island bribery. Consulting Company B (based in Japan) was a key participant in the bribery scheme. Does anyone know anything about Consulting Company B and whether it might be next to resolve its Bonny Island exposure? If so, please share.”

Yesterday, the DOJ shared as it announced (here) that Marubeni Corporation (a Japanese trading company headquartered in Tokyo) resolved an FCPA enforcement action  by agreeing to pay a $54.6 million criminal penalty.

As the DOJ trumpets in the headline of its release, the U.S. Bonny Island bribery intake now stands at $1.7 billion.  Previous enforcement actions were brought against the four TSKJ joint venture partners:  Kellogg Brown & Root LLC / Halliburton Co. / KBR Inc.  ($579 million in combined DOJ/SEC fines and penalties); Technip S.A. ($338 million in combined DOJ/SEC fines and penalties); Snamprogetti Netherlands BV / ENI S.p.A. ($365 million in combined DOJ/SEC fines and penalties); and JGC Corp. of Japan ($219 million in DOJ fines). In addition, as the DOJ notes in its release, is Jeffrey Tesler’s $149 million forfeiture, Wojciech Chodan’s $700,000 forfeiture, and Albert Jack Stanley’s guilty plea.

This post summarizes the Marubeni enforcement action, the first FCPA enforcement action of 2012.

The DOJ enforcement action involved a criminal information (here) against Marubeni Corporation resolved through a deferred prosecution agreement (here)

Criminal Information

The information focuses on the same Bonny Island (Nigeria) conduct at issue in the above referenced enforcement actions.  According to the information, Marubeni is a “major Japanese trading company headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, with operations around the world, including in Nigeria.”  The company’s shares are listed in Japan and the U.K.

According to the information, the TSKJ joint venture, in addition to hiring Jeffrey Tesler, “also hired Marubeni to help it obtain and retain business in Nigeria, including by offering to pay and paying bribes to Nigerian government officials.”  The information further states as follows.  “By the time TSKJ had stopped paying Marubeni in June 2005, TSKJ had paid Marubeni $51 million in part for use in bribing Nigerian government officials.  Marubeni was an agent within the meaning of the FCPA of TSKJ and of each of the joint venture companies, including KBR and Technip.  Thus, Marubeni was an agent of a “domestic concern” within the meaning of the FCPA and an agent of an “issuer” within the meaning of the FCPA.”

Based on the above allegations, the information charges one count of conspiracy and one count of aiding and abetting FCPA anti-bribery provisions.  The information contains the following  U.S. jurisdictional allegations.  (1) “Marubeni met with Stanley and others in Houston, Texas to discuss Marubeni’s contracts with TSKJ and its fees;” (2) “Marubeni’s co-conspirators caused wire transfers totaling approximately $132 million to be sent from Maderia Company’s 3’s bank account in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, to bank accounts in New York, New York, to be further credited to bank accounts in Switzerland and Monaco controlled by Tesler for Tesler to use to bribe Nigerian government officials;” (3) “on or about April 7, 1999 Marubeni faxed a letter to Stanley in Houston, Texas, regarding Marubeni’s fee for Train 3.”  The aiding and abetting charge is based on the following allegation:  “Marubeni aided and abetted KBR in causing the following corrupt payments to be wire transferred from Madeira Company 3’s bank account in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, to Marunbeni’s bank accounts in Japan intending for Marubeni to use such funds in part to bribe Nigerian government officials:  $17 million in payments between August 2002 and June 2004 “payments to Marubeni pursuant to Agreement for Trains 4 & 5.”

As in prior Bonny Island bribery enforcement actions, the “foreign officials” identified were Nigeria LNG Limited (“NLNG”) officers and employees,  NLNG is majority owned by multinational oil companies and Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (“NNPC”) owns 49% of NLNG and “through the NLNG board members appointed by NNPC, among other means, the Nigerian government exercised control over NLNG, including but not limited to the ability to block the award of EPC contracts.”  In addition, the Marubeni enforcement action (like the prior enforcement actions) generically refer to the other Nigerian government officials.

Deferred Prosecution Agreement

The DOJ’s charges against Marubeni were resolved via a deferred prosecution agreement.  Pursuant to the DPA, Marubeni admitted, accepted, and acknowledged “that it is responsible under U.S. law for acts of its employees and agents” as set forth in the information.

The term of the DPA is two years and it states that the DOJ entered into the agreement based “on the individual facts and circumstances presented by this case” and that “among the facts considered were that Marubeni has agreed to undertake remedial measures as contemplated by [the DPA], and the impact on Marubeni, including collateral consequences, of a guilty plea or criminal conviction.”  When the DOJ cites the facts considered in resolving a matter via a DPA or NPA typically the facts are much more extensive than above.

As detailed in the DPA, the advisory Sentencing Guidelines range for the charges at issue was $54.6 million – $109.2 million.  Pursuant to the DPA, Marubeni agreed to pay $54.6 million – a rare instance in which the fine amount is within the guidelines range.

Pursuant to the DPA, Marubeni represented that it “has implemented and will continue to implement a compliance and ethics program designed to prevent and detect violations of the FCPA, the anti-corruption provisions of Japanese law, and other applicable anti-corruption laws throughout its operations …”.  The specifics of such a program are set forth in an attachment to the DPA.  In the DPA, Marubeni agreed to annual reporting obligations to the DOJ regarding its compliance program and internal controls.  In addition, Marubeni also agreed to engage a “corporate compliance consultant” for a two-year period.

As is common in FCPA DPA’s Marubeni expressly agreed that it shall not, directly or indirectly, “make any public statement … contradicting the acceptance of responsibility by Marubeni” set forth in the DPA.

In the DOJ’s release, Mythili Raman (Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Division) stated as follows.  “With today’s resolution, the department has held accountable all five of the corporations that participated in the massive, decade-long scheme to bribe Nigerian government officials in connection with the so-called Bonny Island project.  As a result of this extensive investigation, the department and our partners have obtained more than $1.7 billion in penalties and forfeiture orders from the joint venture partners, their agents and individuals who sought illegally to obtain the Bonny Island contracts. Several individuals also have pleaded guilty for their roles in the scheme. Our FCPA enforcement efforts are an essential part of our comprehensive approach to rooting out corruption across the globe.”

In this company release, Marubeni said that the effects of the enforcement action on its business forecasts “will not be material.”  One interesting aside is that Marubeni states in its most recent annual report (here) as follows.  “FTSE4Good Global Index:  The FTSE4Good Global Index is a stock price indicator developed and established by the Financial Times Stock Exchange (FTSE), a joint venture between the Financial Times Ltd. of the U.K. and the London Stock Exchange. Companies are evaluated on their environmental sustainability efforts, relationships with stakeholders, protection of human rights, safeguarding of labor standards in their supply chains, and commitment to preventing corruption. Marubeni has been consistently selected for inclusion in the index since 2001, when the index was initially established.” (emphasis added).

Derek Adler (here) and Marc Weinstein (here) of Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP represented Marubeni.

JGC of Japan Formally Joins the Bonny Island Bribery Club

In an enforcement action anticipated for months (see here for the prior post), JGC Corporation on Japan last week became the fourth joint venture partner to resolve its FCPA exposure in connection with the Bonny Island, Nigeria project.
Other joint venture partners in the so-called TSKJ consortium to previously resolve Bonny Island bribery probes were KBR / Halliburton (see here), Technip (see here) and Snamprogetti (see here). In addition, M.W. Kellogg Ltd., the entity that originally formed the TSKJ consortium resolved a U.K. Serious Fraud Office enforcement action (see here). In terms of individual prosecutions, Albert Jack Stanley pleaded guilty and awaits sentencing (see here); Wojciech Chodan pleaded guilty and awaits sentencing (see here); and Jeffrey Tesler recently pleaded guilty and awaits sentencing (see here).

The JGC enforcement action involved only a DOJ component. Total settlement amount was $218.8 million and the criminal charges (see here for the information) were resolved via a DOJ deferred prosecution agreement (here).

Criminal Information

The substance of the criminal allegations are the same as in the prior KBR, Technip, and Snamprogetti enforcement actions. That is, the TSKJ consortium, of which JGC was a member, was formed for purposes of bidding on and performing a series of engineering, procurement, and construction (“EPC”) contracts to design and build a liquefied natural gas plant on Bonny Island, Nigeria.

Tesler was hired by TSKJ to “help it obtain business in Nigeria, including by offering to pay and paying bribes to high-level Nigerian government officials” and Tesler “was an agent of TSKJ and of each of the joint venture companies.”

According to the information, TSKJ also hired “Consulting Company B” – a “global trading company headquartered in Tokyo” to help it “obtain business in Nigeria, including by offering to pay and paying bribes to Nigerian government officials” and “Consulting Company B was an agent of TSKJ and of each of the joint venture companies.”

Most of the allegations in the information focus on the conduct of the JGC’s alleged co-conspirators such as Stanley, Tesler, and Tesler’s corporate entity, Tri-Star Investments Ltd. As to U.S. nexus, the information alleges money flowing through U.S. based accounts “to bribe Nigerian government officials” and co-conspirators faxing or e-mailing information into the U.S. in furtherance of the bribery scheme.

Based on the above conduct, the information charges conspiracy to violate the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions and aiding and abetting FCPA anti-bribery violations.

DPA

The DOJ’s charges against JGC were resolved via a deferred prosecution agreement.

Pursuant to the DPA, JGC admitted, accepted and acknowledged “that it is responsible for the acts of its employees, subsidiaries, and agents” as set forth above. As is typical in FCPA DPAs, JGC expressly agreed not to make any statements, directly or indirectly, “contradicting” the facts alleged.

The term of the DPA is two years and it states that the DOJ entered into the agreement based on the following factors.

“(a) after initially declining to cooperate with the Department based on jurisdictional arguments, JGC began to cooperate, and has agreed to continue to cooperate, with the Department in its ongoing investigation of the conduct of JGC and its present and former employees, agents, consultants, contractors, subcontractors, subsidiaries, and others relating to violations of the FCPA;

(b) JGC has undertaken remedial measures, including evaluating and enhancing its compliance program, and has agreed to undertake further remedial measures as contemplated by this Agreement; and

(c) the impact of JGC, including collateral consequences, of a guilty plea or criminal conviction.”

As stated in the DPA, the fine range for the above conduct under the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines was $312.6 million to $625.2 million. Pursuant to the DPA, JGC agreed to pay a monetary penalty of $218.8 million (30% below the minimum amount suggested by the guidelines). DPAs frequently then state why such a below-guidelines fine amount is “appropriate,” however the JGC DPA is silent as to this issue. Interesting also is that the conduct at issue took place between 1995 and 2004. Yet, the 2010 sentencing guidelines were used in calculating the fine rather than the 2003 guidelines that were used in the prior KBR, Technip, and Snamprogetti enforcement actions.

Pursuant to the DPA, JGC agreed to “engage a corporate compliance consultant.”

The DOJ release (here) states as follows. “With [the JGC] resolution, each of the four companies in the TSKJ joint venture, the former chairman of the U.S. joint venture partner, and several other individuals have now been held accountable for a massive conspiracy to bribe Nigerian government officials to obtain lucrative construction contracts.” “The approximately $1.5 billion in criminal and civil penalties that have been imposed on the members of the joint venture far exceed their profits from the scheme. Foreign bribery is a serious crime, and as this case makes clear, we are investigating and prosecuting it vigorously.”

Manny Abascal (Latham & Watkins – see here – a former DOJ enforcement attorney) represented JGC.

This may not be the last we hear of Bonny Island bribery. Consulting Company B (based in Japan) was a key participant in the bribery scheme. Does anyone know anything about Consulting Company B and whether it might be next to resolve its Bonny Island exposure? If so, please share.

JGC of Japan Formally Joins the Bonny Island Bribery Club

In an enforcement action anticipated for months (see here for the prior post), JGC Corporation on Japan last week became the fourth joint venture partner to resolve its FCPA exposure in connection with the Bonny Island, Nigeria project.
Other joint venture partners in the so-called TSKJ consortium to previously resolve Bonny Island bribery probes were KBR / Halliburton (see here), Technip (see here) and Snamprogetti (see here). In addition, M.W. Kellogg Ltd., the entity that originally formed the TSKJ consortium resolved a U.K. Serious Fraud Office enforcement action (see here). In terms of individual prosecutions, Albert Jack Stanley pleaded guilty and awaits sentencing (see here); Wojciech Chodan pleaded guilty and awaits sentencing (see here); and Jeffrey Tesler recently pleaded guilty and awaits sentencing (see here).

The JGC enforcement action involved only a DOJ component. Total settlement amount was $218.8 million and the criminal charges (see here for the information) were resolved via a DOJ deferred prosecution agreement (here).

Criminal Information

The substance of the criminal allegations are the same as in the prior KBR, Technip, and Snamprogetti enforcement actions. That is, the TSKJ consortium, of which JGC was a member, was formed for purposes of bidding on and performing a series of engineering, procurement, and construction (“EPC”) contracts to design and build a liquefied natural gas plant on Bonny Island, Nigeria.

Tesler was hired by TSKJ to “help it obtain business in Nigeria, including by offering to pay and paying bribes to high-level Nigerian government officials” and Tesler “was an agent of TSKJ and of each of the joint venture companies.”

According to the information, TSKJ also hired “Consulting Company B” – a “global trading company headquartered in Tokyo” to help it “obtain business in Nigeria, including by offering to pay and paying bribes to Nigerian government officials” and “Consulting Company B was an agent of TSKJ and of each of the joint venture companies.”

Most of the allegations in the information focus on the conduct of the JGC’s alleged co-conspirators such as Stanley, Tesler, and Tesler’s corporate entity, Tri-Star Investments Ltd. As to U.S. nexus, the information alleges money flowing through U.S. based accounts “to bribe Nigerian government officials” and co-conspirators faxing or e-mailing information into the U.S. in furtherance of the bribery scheme.

Based on the above conduct, the information charges conspiracy to violate the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions and aiding and abetting FCPA anti-bribery violations.

DPA

The DOJ’s charges against JGC were resolved via a deferred prosecution agreement.

Pursuant to the DPA, JGC admitted, accepted and acknowledged “that it is responsible for the acts of its employees, subsidiaries, and agents” as set forth above. As is typical in FCPA DPAs, JGC expressly agreed not to make any statements, directly or indirectly, “contradicting” the facts alleged.

The term of the DPA is two years and it states that the DOJ entered into the agreement based on the following factors.

“(a) after initially declining to cooperate with the Department based on jurisdictional arguments, JGC began to cooperate, and has agreed to continue to cooperate, with the Department in its ongoing investigation of the conduct of JGC and its present and former employees, agents, consultants, contractors, subcontractors, subsidiaries, and others relating to violations of the FCPA;

(b) JGC has undertaken remedial measures, including evaluating and enhancing its compliance program, and has agreed to undertake further remedial measures as contemplated by this Agreement; and

(c) the impact of JGC, including collateral consequences, of a guilty plea or criminal conviction.”

As stated in the DPA, the fine range for the above conduct under the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines was $312.6 million to $625.2 million. Pursuant to the DPA, JGC agreed to pay a monetary penalty of $218.8 million (30% below the minimum amount suggested by the guidelines). DPAs frequently then state why such a below-guidelines fine amount is “appropriate,” however the JGC DPA is silent as to this issue. Interesting also is that the conduct at issue took place between 1995 and 2004. Yet, the 2010 sentencing guidelines were used in calculating the fine rather than the 2003 guidelines that were used in the prior KBR, Technip, and Snamprogetti enforcement actions.

Pursuant to the DPA, JGC agreed to “engage a corporate compliance consultant.”

The DOJ release (here) states as follows. “With [the JGC] resolution, each of the four companies in the TSKJ joint venture, the former chairman of the U.S. joint venture partner, and several other individuals have now been held accountable for a massive conspiracy to bribe Nigerian government officials to obtain lucrative construction contracts.” “The approximately $1.5 billion in criminal and civil penalties that have been imposed on the members of the joint venture far exceed their profits from the scheme. Foreign bribery is a serious crime, and as this case makes clear, we are investigating and prosecuting it vigorously.”

Manny Abascal (Latham & Watkins – see here – a former DOJ enforcement attorney) represented JGC.

This may not be the last we hear of Bonny Island bribery. Consulting Company B (based in Japan) was a key participant in the bribery scheme. Does anyone know anything about Consulting Company B and whether it might be next to resolve its Bonny Island exposure? If so, please share.

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