A US court on Thursday sentenced Albert Stanley, a former Kellogg Brown & Root LLC Chief Executive Officer to two and a half years in prison for his role in a scheme to bribe Nigerian government officials in return for $6 billion in engineering and construction contracts.
The court also said that Mr Stanley must serve three years of probation and pay $1,000 a month in restitution after he is released.
The former KBR chief pleaded guilty in 2008 to conspiring with others to bribe Nigerian government officials to secure construction and engineering contract in the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) company from 1995 to 2004.
Mr Stanley was KBR’s chief executive until 2001 and chairman until June 2004.
KBR was previously a subsidiary of Halliburton, but was spun off in 2007 and in 2009 agreed to pay $579 million to settle bribery allegations.
Kellogg Brown & Root LLC, the former engineering subsidiary of Halliburton Co, pleaded guilty in 2009 and admitted that it paid $180 million in bribes to Nigerian officials to win the $6 billion in contracts for the Bonny Island LNG project in the Niger Delta. Partner companies from Italy, France and Japan were involved.
According to agency reports, Mr Stanley told the U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison that alcoholism played a role in compromising the traditional American values of hard work, honesty and integrity that he brought to his professional life.
“I lost touch,” he said. “I wish to be very clear that I accept full responsibility for what I have done … and hope to be able to continue to make amends for my past.”
Larry Veselka, Stanley’s lawyer, asked the judge to forgo a prison sentence for Stanley, citing his involvement in Alcoholics Anonymous and mentoring relationships with people in Houston and North Carolina, where Stanley now lives. About two dozen people also attested to Stanley’s volunteer work in court Thursday.
Indeed, Stanley’s sentence is lighter than his plea agreement had outlined, as he had faced the possibility of seven years in prison for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. A federal presentencing report suggested punishment of three and a half years.
Veselka also argued that Stanley had cooperated with prosecutors and helped the government recover $1.7 billion in fines and restitution; making this case, Veselka said, the most successful prosecution under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The act says it is unlawful to bribe foreign government officials or company executives to obtain or retain business or to secure an advantage to getting the business.
But the trial Judge dismissed Veselka’s statement, saying the sum was only large because the case was one of the biggest ones prosecuted.
Ellison settled on two and a half years, acknowledging that white-collar criminals face hardship in prison. But he insisted he didn’t want to make a “distinction for crime for rich people.”
“The court does take note of and salute the strides Mr Stanley has made both to put things right in Nigeria and to redeem his own life,” Ellison said. “But the misconduct was serious, ongoing and deeply hurtful.”
After the sentencing, Stanley appeared to tell friends who approached him that it was disappointing. Veselka congratulated the Justice Department for its successful prosecution but withheld additional comments since Stanley was still cooperating with prosecutors.
TWO OTHERS GET SENTENCED
A second man involved in the bribery scheme, British lawyer Jeffrey Tesler, was sentenced earlier Thursday to 21 months in prison and two years’ probation. He was arrested in London in 2009, pleaded guilty in Houston a year ago to conspiring and violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
The third man to get a conviction in the e bribery scandal was Wojciech Chodan, 74, who on Wednesday received a one year supervisory probation and fined $20,000.
Mr Chodan pleaded guilty in December 2010.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had in 2010 charged the current and former KBR and Halliburton executives; including former American Vice President Dick Cheney, who at one time led Halliburton; in the bribery scheme. But the charges were dropped a few weeks later after Halliburton agreed to pay a $35 million settlement.
The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act was passed in 1977. Its anti-bribery provisions were broadened in 1998 to apply to foreign firms and persons who directly or through agents allow corrupt payments to take place.
NO ACTION YET FROM NIGERIA
Despite these convictions, the Nigerian government is yet to take any major steps in identifying or prosecuting the bribe takers.
The only Nigerian to be prosecuted by the EFCC in relations to the Halliburton trial is an aide to former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Adeyanju Bodunde, who is facing trial in an Abuja High Court for his role in the scale.
A preliminary report names some former Nigerian President as Halliburton bribe takers. They included, Military Head of States, Late Sani Abacha, Abdulsalami Abubakar and Olusegun Obasanjo.