January 20, 2011 / 4:14 PM / in 7 years

Court backs Briton's extradition to US over bribery

LONDON, Jan 20 (Reuters) - Britain’s High Court has upheld the extradition of a Briton to the United States to face charges of involvement in a scheme to bribe Nigerian officials to win contracts for a joint venture run by KBR Inc (KBR.N).

Solicitor Jeffrey Tesler, 62, who also has Israeli nationality, was indicted in 2009 on charges related to the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) for his alleged participation in the scheme between 1994 and 2004. The United States requested his extradition.

A district judge in London granted the request, but Tesler appealed against the decision. On Thursday the High Court refused to block his extradition, Press Association reported.

The U.S. indictment said that Tesler had been hired as an agent of the four-company venture to bribe Nigerian officials.

The bribes were paid to secure $6 billion worth of contracts for the joint venture to build and expand Nigeria’s Bonny Island liquefied natural gas terminal.

Last month, Briton Wojciech Chodan, who worked for a unit of engineering company KBR, pleaded guilty in U.S. court to taking part in the bribery plot. He had been extradited from Britain. [ID:nN06225091]

    KBR and ex-parent Halliburton Co (HAL.N) have reached a total U.S. settlement over Bonny Island of $579 million. As part of the 2007 separation, Halliburton agreed to cover KBR’s Bonny Island liabilities, and Britain’s Serious Fraud Office is in talks with a local KBR subsidiary over a settlement.

    The joint venture partners included Japan’s JGC Corp (1963.T), France’s Technip SA TECF.PA and a unit of Italy’s Saipem (SPMI.MI). The latter two reached settlements with U.S. investigators last year. [ID:nN28265604] [ID:nLDE66628H] (Reporting by Olesya Dmitracova; editing by Mark Heinrich)

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