Bilfinger SE, the German parent company of Julius Berger, has reached a Deferred Prosecution Agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to pay $32 million as fine for involvement in a foreign bribery scheme benefiting Nigerian government officials to obtain and retain contracts for the $387 million Eastern Gas Gathering System (EGGS) project.
An official statement by the US Justice Department says that from late 2003 through June 2005, Bilfinger conspired with Willbros Group Inc. and others to make corrupt payments totalling more than $6 million to Nigerian government officials to assist in obtaining and retaining contracts related to the EGGS project.
Bilfinger and Willbros are accused of having formed a joint venture to bid on the EGGS project and inflated the price of the joint venture’s bid by 3% to cover the cost of paying the bribes.
The statement further explained: “At another point in the conspiracy, when Willbros employees encountered difficulty obtaining enough money to make their share of the bribe payments, Bilfinger loaned them $1 million.”
Bilfinger has therefore pledged to implement rigorous internal controls, continue cooperating fully with the Justice Department, and retain an independent corporate compliance monitor for at least 18 months under the 3-year deferred agreement.
The Chief Executive Officer of Bilfinger SE, Roland Koch, said: “We are pleased that we have now been able to put these events from the distant past behind us. In recent years, Bilfinger has consistently expanded its compliance instruments and today has a modern and efficient system.”
The Department of Justice in its statement “acknowledged Bilfinger’s cooperation and its remediation efforts.”
In a separate release, Bilfinger SE said it had significantly reduced its investments in Julius Berger Nigeria PLC (JBN) in 2012, in tandem with the scope of its strategic alignment toward engineering and services. Already the company has reduced its stake in the Nigerian business from 49% to approximately 33%.