Technip Agrees to Deferred Prosecution and Criminal Penalty

29 June 2010 Publication

According to a June 28, 2010 Department of Justice ("DOJ") press release, Technip S.A., a Paris-based engineering and construction company, agreed to enter into a deferred prosecution agreement and to pay a $240 million criminal penalty to resolve FCPA-related charges for its participation in a decade-long scheme to bribe Nigerian government officials to obtain engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contracts. The contracts were valued at more than $6 billion and related to building liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities on Bonny Island, Nigeria. A two-count criminal information was filed against Technip in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, charging the company with one count of conspiracy and one count of violating the FCPA.

The deferred prosecution agreement requires Technip to retain an independent compliance monitor for two years and to review the design and implementation of Technip’s compliance program.

Along with Kellogg Brown & Root Inc. (KBR) and two other companies, Technip was part of a four-company joint venture that was awarded four EPC contracts between 1995 and 2004 to build LNG facilities on Bonny Island. According to the DOJ press release, Technip authorized the joint venture to hire two agents, Jeffrey Tesler and a Japanese trading company, to pay bribes to a number of Nigerian government officials to assist the joint venture in obtaining the EPC contracts. A Technip senior executive, along with KBR’s former CEO, Albert "Jack" Stanley and others, met with high-level members of the Nigerian executive branch to ask the office holders to designate representatives with whom the joint venture should negotiate bribes to Nigerian government officials.

According to DOJ, the joint venture paid approximately $132 million to a Gibraltar corporation controlled by Tesler and more than $50 million to the Japanese trading company during the course of the bribery scheme to be used, part of which was to be used for bribes to Nigerian government officials.

As previously discussed here, Stanley pleaded guilty in September 2008 to conspiring to violate the FCPA for his participation in the bribery scheme. Also, as reported here, in February 2009, Kellogg Brown & Root LLC, KBR Inc., and Halliburton Company agreed to settle DOJ and SEC enforcement actions relating to the award of $6 billion in Nigerian construction contracts between 1995 and 2004. The $579 million in combined criminal and civil penalties is the largest ever against a U.S. company in an FCPA enforcement action and the second largest on record. In addition, in March 2009, DOJ unsealed criminal indictments against Jeffrey Tesler and Wojciech Chodan, both United Kingdom citizens and residents, for their role in the KBR Nigeria bribery scheme (see here).

In a related matter, the company also reached a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to pay $98 million in disgorgement of profits relating to violations of the FCPA’s anti-bribery, books and records, and internal controls provisions.

The DOJ press release can be found here and the SEC litigation release can be found here. The SEC civil complaint is attached.