Germany-based engineering company Bilfinger agreed this week to pay $32 million to the Department of Justice to resolve charges over violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The company's remedial actions, however, also earned it a deferred prosecution agreement.

According to court documents, from late 2003 through June 2005, Bilfinger conspired with pipeline construction company Willbros and others to pay more than $6 million in bribes to government officials of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to obtain and retain contracts related to a pipeline project. To cover the cost of the bribes, Bilfinger and Willbros formed a joint venture to bid on the Eastern Gas Gathering System (EGGS) project and inflated the price of the joint venture's bid by three percent. 

As part of the settlement, the Justice Department agreed to defer prosecution of Bilfinger for three years. The DPA acknowledged Bilfinger's cooperation and its remediation efforts, which included:

  • Interviewing relevant employees and disclosing facts learned during those interviews;
  • Facilitating the Justice Department's interviews of foreign employees;
  • Terminating those responsible for the corrupt payments;
  • Enhancing its compliance program and internal controls; and
  • Agreeing to continue to cooperate with the Justice Department in any ongoing investigations.

Bilfinger also agreed to an external monitor for a term of at least 18 months. The monitor's primary responsibility is to assess the company's compliance with the terms of the DPA and report the results to the Justice Department at least twice during the terms of the monitorship.

After the 18-month term has expired, Bilfinger may self-report to regulators. If the Justice Department finds that the company knowingly violated any part of the agreement, however, it may extend the term of the monitorship.