Another development in the DOJ’s prosecution of individuals under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act took place Thursday, as two former managers of the oil, gas, and power contractor Willbros each were sentenced to slightly more than a year in prison for their roles in the company’s payment of more than $6 million in bribes to government officials from Nigeria.
Jason Edward Steph, 40, received 15 months in prison; Jim Bob Brown, 48, got 12 months and one day. Both had previously pleaded guilty to charges they helped coordinate bribes to Nigerian officials to help the Houston-based Willbros obtain, and retain, the Eastern Gas Gathering System (EGGS) Project, valued at approximately $387 million. Additionally, Brown admitted to his role in another plot to bribe Nigerian revenue officials in exchange for reduced federal and state tax obligations.
Also, Brown admitted to making at least $300,000 in corrupt payments to Ecuadorian government officials affiliated with PetroEcuador and PetroCommercial,in order to obtain and retain business, including the Proyecto Santo Domingo project.
“I allowed myself to be influenced by the corrupt nature of the international business community. It’s no excuse,” Brown told U.S. District Judge Simeon T. Lake III, as reported by The Houston Chronicle.
“I didn’t know how wrong it was, but I knew it was wrong,” added Steph.
Meanwhile, U.S. citizen Kenneth Tillery, the former president of Willbros International, remains a fugitive in Nigeria, and Nigeria remains a hotbed of corruption.