Dutch and Italian Companies Agree to Fines in Nigerian Bribery Scheme

12 August 2010 Publication

On July 7, 2010, Snamprogetti Netherlands B.V. (“Snamprogetti”) and its parent company, ENI S.p.A. of Italy agreed to pay $365 million in combined fines and penalties to resolve charges related to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) for their participation in a decade-long scheme to bribe Nigerian government officials to obtain engineering, procurement and construction contracts ("EPC").

Snamprogetti was part of a four-company joint venture, along with Kellogg Brown & Root Inc., Technip S.A., and JGC of Japan, called TSKJ. Between 1995 and 2004, TKSJ won four contracts, valued at more than $6 billion, from Nigeria LNG Ltd., to build liquefied natural gas (“LNG”) facilities on Bonny Island.

According to the DOJ, Snamprogetti authorized TKSJ to hire two agents, Jeffrey Tesler and a Japanese trading company, to pay bribes to Nigerian government officials, including top-level executive branch officials, to assist TKSJ in obtaining the contracts. At crucial junctures preceding the award of the contracts, TKSJ’s agents 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 payment of bribes to Nigerian government officials. 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. According to court documents, delivery of the payments was made in a variety of ways, including via deliveries of cash-filled briefcases and vehicles.

Additionally, the SEC’s complaint alleged that Snamprogetti took active steps to implement and hide the bribery scheme through sham consulting and services contracts with subcontractors or vendors. The SEC's complaint also alleges that ENI failed to ensure that its subsidiary, Snamprogetti, complied with ENI's internal controls concerning the use of agents, and that the books and records of both companies were falsified as a result of the bribery scheme.

Snamprogetti was charged by the DOJ in a criminal information with one count of conspiracy and one count of aiding and abetting violations of the FCPA. In order to resolve these charges, it will pay a $240 million criminal penalty. Snamprogetti also entered into a two-year deferred prosecution agreement with the DOJ. The agreement does not require the appointment of a monitor.

Snamprogetti and ENI also reached a settlement with the SEC. The SEC charged Snamprogetti with violating the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions, falsifying books and records, and circumventing internal controls, and charged ENI with violating the FCPA’s books and records and internal controls provisions. As part of the settlement, Snamprogetti and ENI agreed jointly to pay $125 million in disgorgement of profits.