Wednesday, February 11, 2009
The SEC announced settlements with KBR, Inc. and Halliburton Co. to resolve SEC charges that KBR subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root LLC bribed Nigerian government officials over a 10-year period, in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), in order to obtain construction contracts. The SEC also charged that KBR and Halliburton, KBR's former parent company, engaged in books and records violations and internal controls violations related to the bribery.
KBR and Halliburton have agreed to pay $177 million in disgorgement to settle the SEC's charges. Kellogg Brown & Root LLC has agreed to pay a $402 million fine to settle parallel criminal charges brought today by the U.S. Department of Justice. The sanctions represent the largest combined settlement ever paid by U.S. companies since the FCPA's inception.
Kellogg Brown & Root LLC's predecessor entities (Kellogg, Brown & Root, Inc. and The M.W. Kellogg Company) were members of a four-company joint venture that won the construction contracts worth more than $6 billion. In September 1998, Halliburton acquired Dresser Industries, Inc., the parent company of The M.W. Kellogg Company.
The SEC alleges that beginning as early as 1994, members of the joint venture determined that it was necessary to pay bribes to officials within the Nigerian government in order to obtain the construction contracts. The former CEO of the predecessor entities, Albert "Jack" Stanley, and others involved in the joint venture met with high-ranking Nigerian government officials and their representatives on at least four occasions to arrange the bribe payments. To conceal the illicit payments, the joint venture entered into sham contracts with two agents, one based in the United Kingdom and one based in Japan, to funnel money to Nigerian officials.
The SEC's complaint alleges that the internal controls of Halliburton, the parent company of the KBR predecessor entities from 1998 to 2006, failed to detect or prevent the bribery, and that Halliburton records were falsified as a result of the bribery scheme. In September 2008, Stanley pleaded guilty to bribery and related charges and entered into a settlement with the SEC.
In the related criminal proceeding announced today, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a criminal action against Kellogg Brown & Root LLC, charging one count of conspiring to violate the FCPA and four counts of violating the anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA. Kellogg Brown & Root LLC has pled guilty to each of these counts. Under its plea agreement, Kellogg Brown & Root LLC is required to pay a criminal fine of $402 million and to retain a monitor to review and evaluate KBR's policies and procedures as they relate to compliance with the FCPA.