Nigerian prosecutors filed charges against former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney and companies including Halliburton Co., where he was chief executive officer until 2000, for alleged bribery, according to court documents.
Charged along with Cheney yesterday were Albert “Jack” Stanley, ex-chairman of KBR Inc., a former unit of Halliburton, current CEO William Utt and Halliburton CEO David Lesar. Companies charged include Technip SA of France, Snamprogetti SpA, a unit of Eni SpA, KBR and JGC Corp. of Japan.
“Names, positions, offices or geography would have no effect on the decisions of the prosecution whatsoever as it relates to this matter,” Godwin Obla, prosecuting counsel for Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, said in an interview in his office after he filed the charges.
Nigeria alleges the companies, which were part of group known as TSKJ, paid bribes totaling $180 million to Nigerian officials between 1994 and 2004 to win a $6 billion liquefied natural gas plant contract. KBR and Halliburton agreed to pay $579 million to U.S. authorities in February 2009 for bribery payments in Nigeria.
“It is still our position that Halliburton was not involved in the project to which this bribery investigation relates and there is no legal basis for charges,” Tara Mullee, a company spokeswoman in Houston, said in an e-mailed response to questions today. The company hasn’t seen the charges filed in the High Court of Justice in the capital, Abuja, yesterday, she said.
Nigeria arrested at least 23 officials last week, 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.
“The actions of the Nigerian government suggest that its officials are wildly and wrongly asserting blame,” KBR said in an e-mailed statement. William Utt wasn’t appointed CEO until 2006, followed by the rest of the executive team, the company said.
“Eni confirms its availability to co-operate with the local authorities in the ongoing investigations, as it has done in the past with Italian and U.S. authorities,” company spokesman Gianni Di Giovanni said in an e-mailed statement yesterday.
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.
Nigeria is Africa’s biggest crude producer and the fifth- biggest source of U.S. oil imports.
The case is Federal Republic of Nigeria v. Halliburton and others, CV/435/10, High Court of Justice, Abuja Judicial Division (Abuja)
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at firstname.lastname@example.org.