Halliburton: UK lawyer, Tesler, faces fresh allegations

THE PUNCH Newspaper- Toyosi Ogunseye

A British lawyer, Jeffrey Tesler, believed to be at the centre of the Halliburton scam, has been accused of trying to persuade a colleague to give false evidence to prosecutors.

The accusation against Tesler, a north London lawyer, was levelled by American prosecutors who wanted him extradited to the US to stand trial, Daily Corruption News reported.

The prosecutors accused Tesler, 61, of helping to organise a decade-long operation to pay bribes worth $132m to some Nigerian politicians and leaders on behalf of a consortium seeking $6bn construction contracts.

Halliburton, the US engineering giant whose subsidiary headed the consortium, last year paid a record $579m fine in the US after admitting its role in the payments

At Westminster magistrates‘ court in London, David Perry, QC for the US prosecutors, alleged that Tesler had attempted to persuade a colleague, Jack Stanley, to give false evidence by telling the US authorities that the money was being used for currency swaps instead of corrupt payments.

Stanley, an American executive in the consortium, faces seven years in jail after admitting to US prosecutors that he conspired to pay bribes to the Nigerians.

He is hoping for a reduced sentence and has provided evidence to the US prosecutors.

Perry told the court that there were ”compelling reasons” to extradite Tesler. Tesler‘s QC, Hugo Keith, countered that the US connection to the London lawyer was ”tangential,” arguing that little of the alleged bribery took place in the US.

The hearing against Tesler, who denies any wrongdoing, is one of a series of controversies over extradition in which the UK is alleged to send more suspects to the US than the other way.

District Judge Caroline Tubbs adjourned the hearing until March 25, 2010 when she is expected to announce whether Tesler should be extradited. The US prosecutors also wanted to extradite a second Briton, Wojciech Chodan, over the same bribery offences. His hearing is due to start on February 22.

A subsidiary of Halliburton Co. until 2007, Kellogg, Brown & Root LLC, which is a member of the consortium, in February 2009, pleaded guilty to charges of bribing some Nigerian officials and politicians in order to the contract for the building of the $6bn Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas plant on Bonny Island


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