On this day, Nigeria’s anti-corrupting agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) charged former US Vice President, Dick Cheney, over a bribery scheme involving oil services firm, Halliburton Co. during time he served as its top official. The charges stemmed from a case involving as much as 180 million dollars allegedly paid in bribes to Nigerian officials.
According to Mr. Femi Babafemi, a spokesman for the EFCC, Halliburton and other firms allegedly paid the bribes to win a contract to build a six billion dollar liquefied natural gas plant in Nigeria’s oil-rich southern Delta.
Terrence O’ Donnell, a lawyer representing Cheney, denied the allegations. In a statement sent to the Associated Press, he said, “The Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission investigated that joint venture extensively and found no suggestion of any impropriety by Dick Cheney in his role of CEO of Halliburton. Any suggestion of misconduct on his part, made now, years later, is entirely baseless.”
The Halliburton case involved its former subsidiary KBR, a major engineering and construction services firm based in Houston. In February 2009, KBR Inc. pleaded guilty in US. federal court to authorizing and paying bribes from 1995 to 2004 for the plant contracts in Nigeria. KBR, which split from Halliburton in 2007, agreed to pay more than 400 million dollars in fines in the plea deal. But Halliburton spokeswoman, Tara Mullee Agard, insisted that the company had nothing to do with the project.
Nigeria, a major supplier to the US, long had been considered by analysts and watchdog groups as having one of the world’s most corrupt governments. Federal prosecutors in the US had filed a series of charges over the construction of the Bonny Island liquefied natural gas plant under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. That law makes it unlawful for companies doing work in the US to bribe foreign governmental officials of company executives to secure or retain business.
Cheney resigned as Halliburton’s CEO in 2000 to run as former President George W. Bush’s vice-president. The EFCC spokesman declined to comment when asked how likely it was that Cheney would be extradited to Nigeria over the charges. “We are following the laws of the land. We want to follow the laws and see where it will go. We’re very convinced by the time the trials commence, we’d make application for appropriate court orders to be issued.
Critics tried to connect former Nigeria’s vice president Atiku Abubakar to this bribery case but he (Abubakar) denied any involvement.