Jeffrey Tesler, a retired sales executive to be extradited to United States for Nigerian bribery trial

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Jeffrey Tesler  Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA

Jeffrey Tesler, a former employee of Haliburton firm, is second Briton threatened with conspiracy charges over $6bn gas contract in Nigeria.

Jeffrey Tesler is accused of being involved in a huge international bribery scheme would be sent to the US to stand trial, a judge ruled today.

 District judge Caroline Tubbs decided at Westminster magistrates court that the 72-year-old retired sales executive, Wojciech Chodan, should be extradited to Texas to be tried.

 US prosecutors accuse him and a 61-year-old London lawyer, Jeffrey Tesler, of conspiring with others to pay bribes of $132m (£86m) to Nigerian officials to secure a $6bn contract to construct liquefied natural gas plants at Bonny Island, on the coast of Nigeria.

 The duo, who face up to 55 years in jail if convicted, have the right to appeal to the higher courts if the Home Secretary also decides that they should be extradited.

 There has been disquiet that the British government has been too willing to allow its citizens to be flown to the US to be prosecuted for a range of crimes.

 Tubbs rejected Chodan's attempt to stop the extradition proceedings. It follows her ruling last month that Tesler should be extradited.

 Chodan worked for a firm owned by the US oil services group Halliburton, which led the consortium seeking the Nigerian contract.

 The US alleges that Chodan, who lives in the Somerset village of Nunney, was on a committee that devised plans to bribe the Nigerians. He had "numerous discussions" with Tesler and others to ensure that the bribes were paid over a 10-year period, the court heard.

 The cash is alleged to have been laundered through Switzerland and Monaco.

Tubbs ruled that Chodan's alleged conduct had "sufficiently substantial connection" with the US to justify the extradition.

She decided that KBR, the US firm he worked for, "received considerable financial benefit from the corrupt scheme" and that executives of the firm "committed acts in furtherance of the corrupt bribery scheme in Houston, Texas".

Tesler and Chodan are alleged to have conspired with Jack Stanley, the Texan chief executive of KBR, who has already pleaded guilty to his involvement in the bribery scheme, as a result of the investigation by the US prosecutors.

Chodan declined to comment.

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