Nigeria to Charge Dick Cheney in Pipeline Bribery Case
December 01, 2010, 5:05 PM EST
By Elisha Bala-Gbogbo
(Updates with Eni comment in seventh paragraph.)
Dec. 1 (Bloomberg) — Nigeria will file charges against former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney and officials from five foreign companies including Halliburton Co. over a $180 million bribery scandal, a prosecutor at the anti-graft agency said.
Indictments will be lodged in a Nigerian court “in the next three days,” Godwin Obla, prosecuting counsel at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, said in an interview today at his office in Abuja, the capital. An arrest warrant for Cheney “will be issued and transmitted through Interpol,” the world’s biggest international police organization, he said.
Peter Long, Cheney’s spokesman, said he couldn’t immediately comment when contacted today and said he would respond later to an e-mailed request for comment.
Obla said charges will be filed against current and former chief executive officers of Halliburton, including Cheney, who was CEO from 1995 to 2000, and its former unit KBR Inc., based in Houston, Texas; Technip SA, Europe’s second-largest oilfield- services provider; Eni SpA, Italy’s biggest oil company; and Saipem Construction Co., a unit of Eni. Obla didn’t identify the former officials whom he said held office when the alleged bribes were paid.
Last week, Nigeria arrested at least 23 officials from companies including Halliburton, Saipem, Technip and a former subsidiary of Panalpina Welttransport Holding AG in connection with alleged illegal payments to Nigerian officials. Those detained were all freed on bail on Nov. 29.
Halliburton and Nigeria:
A Chronology of Key Events in the Unfolding Bribery Scandal
1988: Dresser Industries acquires M.W. Kellogg, ten years before Dresser merges with Halliburton.
September 1994: M.W. Kellogg and three other companies form a partnership known as TSKJ, incorporated in Medeira, Portugal. Each partner owns a 25 percent equal share. Kellogg’s three other partners are Technip of France, Italy’s Snamprogetti, and Japan Gasoline Corp. The partnership submits a bid to Nigeria LNG to build a natural gas plant in Nigeria. Nigeria LNG is owned by the Nigerian government and Royal Dutch/Shell Group. TSKJ’s $2 billion bid is not immediately accepted even though it was 5 percent lower than a bid submitted by competitor, Bechtel Group, Inc.
November 1994: As TSKJ awaits Nigeria’s decision on the bid, Wojciech Chodan, an executive at Kellogg and later a consultant for Kellogg Brown & Root, meets with London lawyer Jefferey Tesler, who is known for his contacts and friendly relations with the Nigerian government, including its dictator Gen. Sani Abacha. During the meeting, they discussed channeling $40 million to Gen. Abacha through Mr. Tesler’s firm Tri-Star, based in Gibralter, Spain.
March 1995: TSKJ formally hires Mr. Tesler as agent; TSKJ’s bid has still not been accepted by Nigeria LNG. Mr. Tesler’s employment contract is signed by an M.W. Kellogg executive on behalf of the TSKJ partnership. Mr. Tesler had been working on behalf of TSKJ prior to March 1995 and the employment contract was given to Mr. Tesler as a reward for his prodding of Nigerian officials. The employment contract provided that Mr. Tesler would be paid $60 million if Nigeria awarded the construction contract to TSKJ. Mr. Tesler’s Tri-Star was contracted to receive at least $160 million in five agreements signed between 1995 and 2002, and the funds were directed to bank accounts in Switzerland and Monaco.
March 20, 1995: Dan Etete replaces Nigeria’s former oil minister, who has a falling out with the dicatator, Gen. Abacha. “In an interrogation of Mr. Tesler, a French magistrate described the London lawyer’s transfer of $2.5 million into Swiss bank accounts held by Mr. Etete under a false name between 1996 and 1998. Mr. Tesler confirmed making the payments but told the magistrate that the money was for an investment in offshore oil exploration leases in Nigeria and that he wasn’t aware the accounts belonged to Mr. Etete, according to people familiar with the interrogation.” (Wall Street Journal, Sept. 29, 2004.)
June 1995: Albert Jack Stanley is promoted to president and chief operating officer of M.W. Kellogg after serving as executive vice president since 1991 and various positions since 1975.
August 1995: Dick Cheney is hired as CEO of Halliburton, three years before he directs the merger of Halliburton with Dresser Industries and M.W. Kellogg. He serves as CEO until August of 2000.