The German construction firm Bilfinger SE has agreed to pay $32 million to resolve U.S. federal bribery charges connected to contracts on a Nigerian natural-gas project, the Dept. of Justice said.
The agreement, which DOJ announced on Dec. 9, is the latest development in a multi-year federal probe of the $387-million Eastern Gas Gathering Project
Bilfinger and DOJ said they have entered into a three-year deferred-prosecution agreement. The company, based in Mannheim, said it will admit it had violated the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and pay the $32-million fine.
After the three-year term of the agreement, DOJ will suspend and dismiss the Bilfinger proceedings on the condition the company carries out internal controls, continues to cooperate with federal officials and hires a corporate compliance monitor for a minimum of 18 months.
Bilfinger CEO Roland Koch said in a statement, “We are pleased that we have now been able to put these events from the distant past behind us.” He added that the firm “has consistently expanded its compliance instruments and, today, has a modern and efficient system.”
Bilfinger, which ranked at No. 16 on ENR’s 2013 Top 250 International Contractors list, said the probe dealt with a project that involved its former Gas and Oil Services Nigeria subsidiary. It added that the unit “has since been wound up.”
Citing court documents, DOJ said that, from late 2003 through June 2005, Bilfinger conspired with Willbros Inc. and others to pay more than $6 million to Nigerian government officials to win contracts for the project.
According to DOJ, Bilfinger and Willbros teamed up in a joint venture to bid for the project and inflated its bid price by 3% to account for the bribes.
Among earlier actions in the federal investigation, former Willbros consultant Paul Grayson Novak was sentenced in May to a prison term and directed to pay a $1-million fine in connection with his role in bribing Nigerian officials.
In December 2008, former Willbros executive Kenneth Tillery was charged with bribery-related actions related to the Nigerian project and another project in Ecuador. DOJ said Tillery is a fugitive and notes that the charges are accusations.
In May 2008, Willbros Group Inc., Willbros International Inc. and DOJ entered a deferred-prosecution agreement and paid a $22-million criminal penalty related to bribes paid to Nigerian and Ecuadoran government officials.
In April 2012, a federal court granted the government’s motion to dismiss the charges because the company had fulfilled its obligations under the 2008 agreement.