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Chodan Pleads Guilty

Wojciech Chodan, KBR's former commercial vice president at a U.K. subsidiary, pleaded guilty today in Houston to conspiring to violate the FCPA.

The DOJ said he was part of a decade-long scheme to bribe Nigerian government officials in exchange for contracts worth $6 billion to build liquefied natural gas facilities on Bonny Island, Nigeria.

Chodan, 72, a U.K. citizen who's now retired, was extradited from Britain to the U.S. on Friday. He pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA.

Chodan was originally indicted in February 2009. He was charged then with one count of conspiracy to violate and ten counts of violating the FCPA. He faced up to 55 years in prison on the original charges, and  forfeiture of more than $132 million.

His sentencing is now scheduled for February 22, 2011. He faces up to five years in prison on the conspiracy charge. As part of his plea agreement, Chodan agreed to forfeit $726,885.

KBR, Technip S.A., Snamprogetti Netherlands B.V., and JGC, a Japanese engineering and construction company, were part of a four-company joint venture known as TSKJ. It was awarded a series of contracts by Nigeria LNG Ltd. between 1995 and 2004 to build the Bonny Island facilities.

Chodan admitted that from 1994 through 2004, he and his co-conspirators agreed to bribe Nigerian government officials, including top-level executive branch officials, to win the contracts. Chodan recommended and agreed to hire two agents, Jeffrey Tesler and a Japanese trading company, to pay the bribes.

The DOJ said the TSKJ joint venture paid $132 million to a Gibraltar corporation controlled by Tesler and more than $50 million to the Japanese trading company.

Chodan and his co-conspirators, according to the DOJ, "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 the bribes to Nigerian government officials."

KBR pleaded guilty in February 2009 to violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. It paid a $402 million criminal fine and, with its former parent company Halliburton, $177 million in disgorgement.

KBR's former CEO, Albert "Jack" Stanley, pleaded guilty in September 2008 to conspiring to violate the FCPA and to mail and wire fraud charges. He's been cooperating with prosecutors and is free on bail, awaiting his final sentencing.

Jeffrey Tesler, TSKJ's alleged middleman, was indicted with Chodan in February 2009. The DOJ has requested his extradition from the U.K.

Earlier this year, two of KBR's partners in Nigeria settled FCPA-related charges. In July, Snamprogetti Netherlands B.V. and its parent company ENI S.p.A of Italy, paid $365 million for Snamprogetti's role in the TSKJ joint venture. In June, Paris-based Technip resolved FCPA-related charges with the DOJ and SEC for $338 million -- a $240 million criminal penalty and $98 million in disgorgement.

View the DOJ's December 6, 2010 release here.

Download a copy of the December 6, 2010 plea agreement in U.S. v. Wojciech J. Chodan here.

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