Page last updated at 13:51 GMT, Friday, 6 March 2009

UK arrest in Nigerian bribe case

US banknotes (generic image)
The alleged bribes were said to run into tens of millions of dollars

UK police have arrested a London lawyer accused of moving millions of dollars in bribes to Nigerian officials to win contracts for a US construction firm.

A federal grand jury in Texas charged Jeffrey Tesler, 60, with helping channel money from Kellogg, Brown and Root, a former Halliburton subsidiary.

He was arrested after an extradition request from the US authorities.

It is alleged he channelled money to Nigerian officials, to obtain contracts valued at more than $6bn (4bn).

The contracts related to the construction of liquefied natural gas facilities on Nigeria's Bonny Island between 1995 and 2004.

Last month, KBR admitted to US federal charges of paying bribes for the contracts. It agreed to pay more than $402m in fines, of which Halliburton, as the former parent company, agreed to pay $302m.

Halliburton also agreed with US securities regulators to disgorge $177m in profits to settle parallel criminal charges.

Second warrant

Mr Tesler was arrested at a business address in Tottenham, north London, on Thursday, British police said.

He was taken to a central London police station and appeared before City of Westminster magistrates on Thursday, when he was remanded in custody.

Mr Tesler returned to the court on Friday.

The US also issued a warrant for the arrest and extradition of another Briton, Wojciech Chodan, 71.

According to the indictment, Mr Chodan and other co-conspirators discussed using Mr Tesler to bribe Nigerian officials.

Prosecutors in Houston, Texas, said that both Mr Tesler and Mr Chodan were charged with conspiring to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Lawyers representing the two men could not be reached immediately for comment.

KBR is a major engineering and construction services company with operations around the world. It was split from Halliburton in 2007.

Its former chief executive, Albert "Jack" Stanley, pleaded guilty in September to his role in the bribery scheme and is awaiting sentencing.

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