Officers from Britain's Serious Fraud Office arrested lawyer Jeffrey Tesler, 60, at his offices in Tottenham, London on 5 March in a move that will widen the scope of the international investigation into corrupt payments on Nigeria's $6 billion liquefied natural gas project.   Tesler, who has already implicated several senior United States, Japanese and Nigerian officials in interviews with France judge instruction Renaud van Ruymbeke, is to be extradited to the USA to face further questioning by the Department of Justice. Tesler, who worked as an agent for the US Halliburton in Nigeria, became a key target for investigators after they discovered more than $180 million in accounts in his name in Monaco and Luxembourg.

Also arrested with Tesler was Wojciech Chodan, who also worked as an agent for Halliburton and wrote detailed diaries describing meetings with the bribe consortium and representatives of international oil companies.

We hear that British officials decided to arrest Tesler when they learned he was planning to travel to Israel (he has dual British/Israeli citizenship).

 

His lawyer immediately made an application for bail. Tesler¹s arrest follows a deal last September with the US Department of Justice by Halliburton executive Albert Jack Stanley who confessed to coordinating a corrupt payments fund on behalf of Halliburton to secure the Nigerian contract.  Stanley, who was number three in the Halliburton hierarchy, also admitted to stealing $11 mn for himself from the bribe fund.

Stanley's guilty plea states that many of the bribes on behalf of Halliburton were paid when former US Vice President Dick Cheney was chief executive and chairman of the company from 1995-2000. Stanley said that bribes were paid to three Nigerian heads of state and several other senior officials including former oil minister Dan Etete, who is wanted in France on money laundering charges.. And on 11 February, Halliburton subsidiary Kellog Brown & Root pleaded guilty in the US courts to five charges of corruption on the Nigerian project and paid a fine of $402 million and paid a further $177mn to the Securities & Exchange Commission for violating company law.

The Department of Justice says these fines do not rule out further prosecutions of officials from any of the companies involved in the corrupt payments network. A spokesman for Nigeria's Attorney General Michael Aondoakaa said there are no plans for prosecutions on the gas corruption case which has cost the country billions of dollars.

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