Long arm jurisdiction - are you subject to the law?, US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act & Dodd Frank - Written by on Monday, March 14, 2011 0:23 - 0 Comments

UK solicitor to forfeit US$150 million after guilty bribery plea in US

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In a Houston courtroom on Friday 11 March Jeffrey Tesler a London based solicitor entered a guilty plea under a plea agreement to bribery charges and agreed to forfeit US$148,964,568.67.

At the hearing the judge said to him

“You seem like such an unlikely person to be here,”

“Was it just that everyone was doing this?”

His reply: “I think that’s a fair comment.”

Tesler was arrested in 2009 by UK Police in North London and resisted extradition to the US but lost his appeal in December last year.  The charges relate to bribes paid in Nigeria though some of the conduct took place in the UK including a meeting at an unspecified London Hotel where negotiations took place on the amount of bribes to be paid.  Tesler paid the bribes on behalf of others to Nigerian officials to secure a contract worth several billion.

It is a good example of the long arm jurisdiction of the United States when it comes to corruption and serves to illustrate the importance of understanding not just the UK legal position but the international jigsaw of anti-corruption laws.

The DOJ release notes the assistance in particular of:

“the authorities in France, Italy, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, including in particular the Crown Prosecution Service, the Serious Fraud Office’s International Assistance and Anti-Corruption Units, the London Metropolitan Police and the City of London Police in the United Kingdom.”

Don’t assume that the Bribery Act is the bright line when it comes to anti-corruption enforcement.  The Tesler case is the latest in a long line of cases involving UK companies and individuals convicted of corruption offences.  Another UK citizen Wojciech Chodan pleaded guilty in relation to the same underlying bribery in December. Both Tesler and Chodan are to be sentenced in the US.

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