A British man has been jailed for 21 months by a Texas courtroom for conspiring to channel bribes totalling $180m (£115m) to politicians and officials in an international corruption scandal.
Lawyer Jeffrey Tesler, 63 also received two years’ probation and agreed to forfeit more than $148m (£94m) from accounts in 12 Swiss banks and four from Israel. Prosecutors said the money was traceable proceeds from the bribery.
Tesler, a dual citizen of Britain and Israel, is the second man to have been sentenced for his part in paying bribes to secure huge engineering contracts in Nigeria.
On Wednesday, Wojciech Chodan, a 74-year-old retired sales executive from Somerset, was sentenced to a year’s probation and fined $20,000 for his part in the bribery scheme. He has agreed to forfeit $726,000 (£461,325) as part of his punishment.
The prosecutions of the pair have been controversial as both were extradited from Britain under contentious legal arrangements between the UK and the US.
Chodan and Tesler were extradited to Texas after losing legal battles in the UK. Once in Houston, they pleaded guilty to conspiring covertly to bribing top-ranking Nigerian politicians and officials.
Both worked for an international consortium of construction firms seeking contracts worth $6bn to build a gas plant on Bonny Island off the coast of Nigeria.
Tesler, 63, who operated from run-down offices in Tottenham, north London, admitted that he acted as a middleman for the consortium and routed the payments through bank accounts in Monaco and Switzerland between 1994 and 2004.
US prosecutors discovered that Tesler arranged for $1m in $100 notes to be loaded into a pilot’s briefcase and then passed on to a politician’s hotel room to finance a political party in Nigeria.
The UK Serious Fraud Office decided to step aside from investigating the corruption allegations, which surfaced more than eight years ago, and let the US government prosecute the two Britons.
The Guardian is fighting a legal battle to gain access to official documents which were used to justify the extradition of the pair, but this move has been resisted by the British and American governments.
Culled From: Guardian UK