A Germany-based international engineering company has agreed to pay $32 million to resolve charges it violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by bribing Nigerian government officials, the Department of Justice said Wednesday.
The DOJ said Mannheim, Germany-based Bilfinger S.E. had bribed the officials to obtain and retain contracts related to its Eastern Gas Gathering system project, which was valued at $387 million.
Under the three-year deferred prosecution agreement, in addition to the monetary penalty, Bilfinger agreed to implement rigorous internal controls, continue cooperating fully with the department, and retain an independent corporate compliance monitor for at least 18 months, the DOJ said.
The DOJ said, according to court documents, Bilfinger conspired with the Houston-based Willbros Group Inc. and others to make corrupt payments totaling more than $6 million to Nigerian government officials to assist in obtaining and retaining contracts related to the project.
Bilfinger had formed a joint venture with Willbros to bid on the project and inflated the joint venture bid's price by 3% to cover the cost of paying the bribes, the DOJ said. At one point, said the department, Bilfinger loaned Willbros more than $1 million to pay the bribes.
Bilfinger said in a statement it has cooperated with the DOJ in its investigation.
“We are pleased that we have now been able to put these events from the distant past behind us,” Bilfinger CEO Roland Koch said in the statement. “In recent years, Bilfinger has consistently expanded its compliance instruments and today has a modern and efficient system.” The statement also said the company significantly reduced its Nigerian business investments in 2012.
The DOJ said that in 2008, Willbros Group and Willbros International Inc. entered into a deferred prosecution agreement and agreed to pay a $22 million criminal penalty in connection with the company’s payment of bribes to government officials. On March 30, 2012, the government moved to dismiss the charges on the grounds the company had satisfied its obligations under the agreement, and the motion was granted on April 2, 2012.
Two former Willbros executives previously had each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy in the matter as well.