When I read that Nigerian officials are part of a scheme involving millions of dollars, I immediately assume that the story is referencing those infamous scam emails in which some fictional member of Nigerian royalty needs to wire five million to dollars to anyone who will provide a social security number and bank account. However, the scenario that unfolded in a federal courtroom today was not one that revolved around email recipients who need to be a bit more discerning when reviewing their Inbox.
Houston-based company KBR, previously known as Kellogg Brown & Root, pleaded guilty yesterday to federal criminal charges of bribing the Nigerian government in order to receive lucrative contracts. Over a decade, KBR paid over $180 million in bribes in order to be given the right to build a $6 billion gas liquefaction plant, which takes natural gas and transfers the energy source into a liquid form that can be transported on tankers. The five charges on which KBR entered the guilty plea were one count of conspiring to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and four counts of actually violating the act.
KBR, which is an engineering firm and military contractor, will be required to pay $402 million in fines and now faces a three-year supervision from a court-appointed monitor. The bulk of the fine will be paid by the former parent company of KBR, Halliburton ... a name with which you might already be familiar. This is an addition to more than $700 million in additional fines that Halliburton has agreed to pay in order to settle other obligations. The former chairman of KBR, Albert "Jack" Stanley of Houston, will face sentencing in May for his admitted participation in the dealings.
Here is what I recommend for a company that is trying to land a major contract -- be the best at what you do. This is certainly the wiser, and more legal, option when compared to bribing a nation's government. If you do find yourself accused of offering bribes in return for work, we can help. Bertolino LLP has Austin attorneys and Houston lawyers who practice business litigation and can handle disputes on both the state and federal level. Please contact our Austin, Houston, or San Antonio office today.