Nigeria may drop Cheney charges in bribery case after talks with Halliburton

By Elisha Bala-Gbogbo
Bloomberg

Nigeria may drop charges against former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney and companies including Halliburton Co., where he was chief executive officer until 2000, the prosecuting attorney for the country’s anti-graft agency said.

After “fruitful discussions” with Halliburton officials in London last week, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is “awaiting further instructions” from the justice minister about whether to drop the charges related to a bribery scandal, Godwin Obla said yesterday in a telephone interview in Abuja, the capital. He didn’t provide details of the discussions.

Nigerian prosecutors filed charges on Dec. 8 for alleged bribery against Cheney, Albert “Jack” Stanley, ex-chairman of KBR Inc., a former unit of Halliburton, current CEO William Utt and Halliburton CEO David Lesar, according to court documents. Companies charged include Technip SA of France, Snamprogetti SpA, a unit of Eni SpA, KBR and JGC Corp. of Japan.

Nigeria, Africa’s biggest crude producer, alleges that the companies, which were part of group known as TSKJ, paid $180 million in bribes to Nigerian officials between 1994 and 2004 to win a $6 billion liquefied natural gas plant contract.

KBR agreed in February 2009 to pay a $402 million fine after admitting it bribed Nigerian officials, while Halliburton paid $177 million to settle allegations by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission without admitting wrongdoing.

‘No Basis’

Halliburton spokeswoman Tara Mullee said “there is no legal basis for the charges” in an e-mailed response to questions on Dec. 8 from Houston, while KBR said in an e-mailed statement on the same day that Nigerian “officials are wildly and wrongly asserting blame.”

Nigeria arrested at least 23 officials last month, including 11 from Halliburton and the CEO of Saipem Construction, a local unit of Rome-based Eni. Those detained were all freed on bail on Nov. 29.

Eni, Technip and JGC are in talks with Nigerian prosecutors to settle the corruption charges, the country’s anti-graft agency said on Dec. 7.

Technip took a charge of 245 million euros ($342 million) related to its stake in TSKJ and discussed “resolution of all potential claims” with the U.S. Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Paris-based company said on Feb. 12.

An aide of former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo was charged with six counts of money-laundering in Abuja on Oct. 13 in connection with the alleged payment of bribes.

Photo: Susan Walsh/AP

18 Comments

  1. Thomas

    I can’t stand Cheney. For among other things ruining KBR. However, Nigerians charging ANYONE with bribery is enough to send me on the floor laughing. Maybe it was voodoo that made him do it.

    #1
  2. ntangle

    As a hypothetical, suppose that HAL paid Nigeria a hefty fine in exchange for dropping the charges. A payment under that label and properly disclosed as such, wouldn’t violate the FCPA law, would it?

    #2
  3. CJ -Cutnshoot

    LOL, big time,“Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a payoff for?”

    #3
  4. Long Tall Texan

    Sounds like the current Nigerian Administration got bribed again to drop the charges.

    #4
  5. hgnis

    In true Nigerian style, this issue has been resolved by responding to the lottery winnings email sent out by the state officials.

    #5
  6. Osgood

    Folks, kickbacks are how we get our tanks into our eternal wars. It is how work get done. Why can’t we understand that bribery is a business tactic.

    #6
  7. Zilch

    Since this is the only way to do business in Nigeria you have to wonder how much was paid to drop the charges.

    #7
  8. chiefdecoy

    Somewhere, there is a liberal with a bloody stump between his/her shoulders, where a head used to be before it exploded……

    I worked out of Port Harcourt, and One Port for a year. Let me tell you, it’s not “bribery”, if it is actually standard operating procedure…..

    #8
  9. Kareem

    Greetings,
    I am a Barrister in London, I have 10M lb British Sterling on hold for you. You must send me immediately upon receipt of this letter $8500.00 USD, (for the paperwork and “the children”) and I will release your funds.

    cheers,
    Kareem Bongo

    #9
  10. Raining_Witch

    “KBR agreed in February 2009 to pay a $402 million fine after admitting it bribed Nigerian officials, while Halliburton paid $177 million to settle allegations by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission without admitting wrongdoing.”
    *********
    Okay, so what’s the difference between paying a bribe or a fine? Which side of the table you give them money.

    This is nothing but another Nigerian scam.

    #10
  11. Raining_Witch

    Paying a fine for bribery to the same officials you paid bribery money to is irony at its best.

    #11
  12. westtex

    Really Nigeria? Charging Cheney with a crime while your citizens send emails out to people saying that “you have won a foreign lottery” and such!
    -
    You don’t have enough REAL criminals to prosecute in Nigeria? So you go after a POLITICAL target that your hero Oblamo hates?
    -
    Could you be ANY MORE OF A JOKE NIGERIA?!!

    #12
  13. Rick

    The are only 2 types of people living in Nigeria. Educated criminals and uneducated criminals.

    #13
  14. James Maxwell

    How bout an investigation of the Nigerian politica scene. I doubt that
    Cheney has any dealing with these folks. We already know from past expericnece that the corruption over there is rampant and every tin pot
    dingle berry has to be paid off before any thing gets done.

    #14
  15. DarronFreed

    Considering how many online scams are run out of Nigeria, to have them complaining about graft and such is just a bit ironic.

    #15
  16. RayTx

    I think I’ll charge someone with bribery too and tell them they can pay a “fine” for me to drop the charges. Right after I start my own country of course.

    #16
  17. Rita

    This is a hoot – no matter what you think of Dick Cheney or Halliburton, the idea that the Nigerians were going to prosecute Mr. Cheney is just asinine. This was a scam, pure and simple. What, pray, is the difference between a “bribe” and a “fine” to a corrupt government?

    #17
  18. FloLake

    Such a shame. I thought we’d get shed of Cheneyball once and for all.

    #18
  19. Jukester

    You are all missing the point here. This entire claim, and entire ‘legal case’ by Nigeria, is purely another stunt aimed at collecting revenues (e.g. ‘fines’) which are nothing more than further payolla and kickbacks to the Nigerian government officials. What a cesspool country…..

    #19