Friday, December 17, 2010

For $250M, Nigeria drops bribery charges against Cheney, Halliburton

Dec 17, 2010

Vice President Cheney at the National Press Club on June 2, 2008. In exchange for $250 million, Nigeria has dropped bribery charges against him, eight others and Halliburton, the company he headed before becoming vice president in 2000.
By Saul Loeb, AFP/Getty Images
Nigeria announced today that in exchange for $250 million, the African nation has dropped bribery charges against Dick Cheney, eight others and Halliburton, the oil-services company he headed before becoming vice president.

The case involves an alleged 10-year, $182 million cash-for-contract scandal involving a four-company joint venture seeking to build a liquefied natural gas plant on Bonny Island in southern Nigeria.

African and U.S. media say Halliburton and Cheney have not commented on the deal, which the head of Nigeria's anti-corruption agency said was offered by Texas-based Halliburton. When news of the impending charges surfaced two weeks ago, Cheney's lawyer called the allegations "entirely baseless," saying, "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."

As The Wall Street Journal points out, "U.S. regulators collected $1.28 billion in penalties and criminal fines in the Bonny Island case after settling charges of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, a 1977 law that bans the bribery of foreign officials to obtain business."

Femi Babafemi, a spokesman for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, said that the $250 million would include roughly $130 million frozen in a Swiss bank, and that remainder would be paid as fines, Agence France-Presse reported Tuesday. But a source told AFP $100 million was in Switzerland and $30 million was in Monaco, saying the money was paid to an intermediary but never passed on as part of the bribery scheme.


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