3 December 2010

Nigeria: Halliburton - EFCC to Try Ex-U.S. VP, Dick Cheney

Lagos — The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said yesterday it was charging former United States Vice-President Dick Cheney over the bribery scandal involving an engineering firm, KBR, a subsidiary of Halliburton.

Before assuming duties as the vice-president of the US, Cheney was the chief executive officer of Halliburton from 1995-2000.

Cheney was vice-president to President George W Bush between 2001 and 2009. Bush was succeeded by President Barack Obama.

An arrest warrant "will be issued and transmitted through Interpol", EFCC prosecuting counsel Godwin Obla said.

The firm, KBR, had admitted bribing Nigerian government officials over the construction of a liquefied natural gas plant in Nigeria.

Spokesman of the EFCC, Femi Babafemi, said charges would be preferred against the former vice-president next week.

He said the charges were "not unconnected to his role as the chief executive of Halliburton".

KBR last year pleaded guilty to paying $180 million in bribes to Nigerian officials prior to 2007, when it was a subsidiary of Halliburton.

The firm agreed to pay $579 million in fines related to the case in the US.

But Nigeria, along with France and Switzerland, has conducted its own investigations into the case.

The bribes concerned the construction of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant in southern Nigeria.

KBR and Halliburton have now split, and Halliburton said it is not connected with the case against KBR.

Halliburton has denied involvement in the allegations.

It had complained that a raid on its office last week by EFCC officials was "an affront against justice".

Ten people were detained for questioning and later released.

A prosecutor quoted by Agence France-Presse (AFP) news agency said those charged would include former and current leaders of Halliburton and officials from firms in a consortium involved in the LNG plant.

The commission had early in the week summoned the managing directors of two major multi-national companies - Halliburton and Shell Petroleum - over the alleged involvement of their firms in the distribution of $180 million and $240 million bribe funds respectively.

It said formal letters of invitation for the two CEOs to appear at the EFCC head office in Abuja last Tuesday were sent to the head offices of the two companies in Lagos.

Operatives of the anti-graft agency had last week raided the two companies where about 21 of their expatriate and Nigerian top officials were arrested.

They were granted administrative bail over the weekend while their travel documents were seized.

Aside the invited CEOs of Shell and Halliburton billed to appear on Tuesday, the MDs of Technip and Saipem, both of who are linked to the Halliburton bribe scam, were also told to report at the Abuja office of the EFCC on Wednesday in addition to four other expatriate officials of Panalpina and two from Halliburton.

Beside this, eight Nigerian officials of Halliburton as well as seven of their counterparts in Panalpina also faced EFCC interrogators at the commission's office in Lagos on Tuesday.

While the Halliburton, Technip and Saipem officials were probed over a $180 million bribe scam, Shell and Panalpina officials were grilled over the alleged complicity of their companies in the sharing of $240 million bribe to some officials in Nigeria, Angola, Libya and other countries between 2001 and 2006.

When contacted on the invitations to the companies' officials, the EFCC spokesman had said the summons were part of on-going investigations of the various bribery scams.

Copyright © 2010 This Day. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.