Solicitor fights bribe charges

By Leon Symons, May 14, 2009

A London solicitor will know next month if his fight against extradition to America has been successful.

Jeffrey Tesler, 60, has been named in a 29-page indictment for his alleged participation in a decade-long scheme to bribe Nigerian government officials. The apparent intention was to obtain contracts to build liquefied natural gas facilities on Bonny Island, Nigeria, valued at £3.9 billion.

Mr Tesler’s legal representatives told the Guardian that “he strongly denies any wrongdoing and has acted at all times within the law”.

Mr Tesler and another man, Wojciech Chodan, 71, of Maidenhead, were indicted on February 17 in Texas.

They have both been charged with conspiracy to violate America’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and 10 counts of violating the FCPA. The indictment also sought forfeiture of more than £85 million from the defendants.

The indictment alleged that Mr Tesler, who has joint British and Israeli nationality, was hired in 1995 by a four-company joint venture to bribe high-level Nigerian government officials. The joint venture was awarded four contracts between 1995 and 2004.

Both men are set to appear at Westminster magistrates’ court on June 12, when a full extradition hearing is scheduled to take place. If convicted, Mr Tesler faces up to 55 years in jail.

Last updated: 10:55am, May 14 2009