September 3, 2008 / 10:02 PM / 11 years ago

UPDATE 2-Former KBR CEO pleads guilty to conspiracy charges

(Adds KBR comment, background, further detail from complaint)

WASHINGTON, Sept 3 (Reuters) - Former KBR Inc (KBR.N) Chief Executive Albert Jackson Stanley has pleaded guilty to charges involving a scheme to bribe Nigerian government officials and receiving kickbacks from a consultant.

Under a plea agreement entered in federal court in Houston on Wednesday, Stanley faces seven years in prison and a $10.8 million restitution payment, the U.S. Justice Department said.

Stanley, 65, pleaded guilty to conspiring to violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by participating in a scheme between at least 1995 and 2004 to bribe Nigerian government officials to obtain engineering, procurement and construction contracts worth more than $6 billion.

In addition, Stanley admitted to conspiring to commit mail and wire fraud in connection with receiving about $10.8 million in kickbacks from a consultant he caused his former employer to hire in connection with liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects around the world.

Stanley also settled with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission without admitting or denying the SEC’s allegations. He has agreed to cooperate with continuing investigations by U.S. officials.

Larry Veselka, an attorney for Stanley, said the plea and SEC settlement reflected Stanley’s cooperation with the government. Sentencing is to occur at a later date.

KBR spokeswoman Heather Browne said the company has not yet reviewed the plea agreement, so it would be premature to comment specifically on the agreement.

“KBR does not in any way condone or tolerate illegal or unethical behavior,” she said in an e-mailed statement.

KBR was the former engineering and construction arm of Halliburton Co (HAL.N), the third-largest oilfield services company by market value, and run by U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney from 1995 to 2000. KBR was split from Halliburton in April last year. A spokesman for Cheney declined to comment.

Stanley headed KBR and its predecessor companies from 1998 until 2001. He then served as chairman of KBR and continued to work for the company until June of 2004.

He admitted authorizing the hiring of two agents to pay bribes to a range of Nigerian government officials to help the KBR joint venture obtain contracts to build LNG facilities.

Halliburton and KBR are under investigation by the United States and other governments for allegedly making improper payments to officials in Nigeria.

In July, Halliburton said it and KBR had held talks with U.S. regulators and prosecutors but there was no assurance a settlement could be reached.

The long-running probes are related to the construction and expansion by a KBR consortium of a gas liquefaction facility at Bonny Island in Rivers State, Nigeria, according to previous SEC filings.

The consortium includes France’s Technip SA TECF.PA, Snamprogetti, a unit of Italy’s ENI (ENI.MI), and Japan’s JGC Corp (1963.T). (Reporting by Rachelle Younglai in Washington, Anna Driver in Houston; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)

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