A United States court on Friday sentenced two Britons and an American for conspiring to channel $182m bribes to top Nigerian officials including three successive heads of government (Sani Abacha, Abdusalam Abubakar, and Olusegun Obasanjo) in an international corruption scandal.
They are being punished for their role in what has become known as the Halliburton scandal, while the Nigerian Government shies away from prosecuting the beneficiaries of the bribe.
The former chairman and chief executive of KBR Inc. and his U.K.-based middleman were sentenced Thursday for their roles in a decade-long, $182 million bribery scheme.
An American executive, Albert “Jack” Stanley, the former head of KBR who pleaded guilty in 2008 to conspiracy to commit bribery, received 30 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release.
Earlier Thursday, Jeffrey Tesler, a London lawyer, who admitted to handling and paying more than $130 million in bribes, was sentenced to 21 months in prison fro his role in the bribery.
Stanley is a former chief executive of construction giant KBR Inc., a subsidiary of Halliburton. He was involved in the company’s natural gas operations in Nigeria from 1995 to 2004. Stanley pleaded guilty in 2008 to conspiring in the scheme to bribe Nigerian government officials in return for more than $6 billion in engineering and construction contracts.
Court files show his sentencing, first set for November 2008 before U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison, was reset at least 16 times. He has been free under $100,000 bail.
KBR, a worldwide engineering and construction services firm, was split off as a separate public company from Halliburton in 2007. It was formerly known as Kellogg, Brown & Root.
Stanley, 69, was chief executive of KBR until 2001 and chairman until June 2004. He also pleaded guilty to a separate count of conspiring to defraud KBR and other companies, admitting to improperly receiving $10.8 million from a consultant hired by KBR at his behest.
Stanley acknowledged in his plea that a four-company joint venture, including KBR and firms from France, Italy and Japan, paid about $182 million to consulting companies, which paid bribes to several Nigerian government officials.
United States investigators focused on the contract for construction of a $4 billion Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas plant on Bonny Island that was awarded to TSKJ, the Portugal-based, four-company consortium where Stanley was KBR’s senior representative.
Three years ago, KBR agreed to pay $402 million in fines to settle criminal charges related to the case.
The prosecution of the British pair has been controversial as both were extradited from Britain under contentious legal arrangements between the UK and the US.
A series of suspects have been sent to the US under a legal regime, which has been criticised for being unfair to Britons.
Mr Chodan faced up to five years in prison for the one count of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act but sort a plea agreement that reduced his sentence to the probation and fine.
Two other former Halliburton’s staff which includes former Chief Executive Officer, Albert Jack Stanley, a British lawyer has also pleaded guilty to bribery charges, and they will be sentenced on Thursday.
However, Nigeria has refused to prosecute the government officials involved in the bribery scandal.
The only major step the country had taken was when the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) arraigned Adeyanju Bodunde, an aide to former President Olusegun Obasanjo in an Abuja High Court.
Mr Bodunde was allegedly implicated in the $180 million bribery scandal.