Nigeria charges former US VP Cheney over bribery
The Associated Press Via- The Washington Post
Tuesday, December 7, 2010; 3:50 PM
LAGOS, Nigeria — Nigeria’s anti-corruption agency on Tuesday charged former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney over a bribery scheme involving oil services firm Halliburton Co. during time he served as its top official, a spokesman said.
The charges stem from a case involving as much as $180 million allegedly paid in bribes to Nigerian officials, said Femi Babafemi, a spokesman for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
Halliburton and other firms allegedly paid the bribes to win a contract to build a $6 billion liquefied natural gas plant in Nigeria’s oil-rich southern delta, he said.
Terrence O’Donnell, a lawyer representing Cheney, denied the allegations.
“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,” O’Donnell’s said in a statement sent to The Associated Press. “Any suggestion of misconduct on his part, made now, years later, is entirely baseless.”
The Halliburton case involves its former subsidiary KBR, a major engineering and construction services firm based in Houston. In February 2009, KBR Inc. pleaded guilty in U.S. 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 in fines in the plea deal.
Halliburton spokeswoman Tara Mullee Agard said the company had not seen the new charges Tuesday, but insisted the company had nothing to do with the project.
Babafemi said Halliburton, its Nigerian subsidiary, Halliburton CEO David J. Lesar, former KBR CEO Albert “Jack” Stanley and current KBR CEO William Utt all face similar charges in the case. The spokesman said each charge in the 16-count indictment carried as much as three years in prison.
Heather L. Browne, a KBR spokeswoman, said in a statement that Utt joined the firm in 2006, two years after prosecutors say the bribery case concluded.
“The actions of the Nigerian government suggest that its officials are wildly and wrongly asserting blame in this matter,” Browne’s statement read. “KBR will continue to vigorously defend itself and its executives, if necessary, in this matter.”
Stanley pleaded guilty in 2008 to federal bribery charges for his role in the scheme. He is scheduled to be sentenced in federal court on Jan. 19.
KBR Statement Regarding Latest Nigerian FCPA Charges
Houston, Texas – December 7, 2010 – Recent press reports name KBR Chairman, President and CEO William P. Utt in the latest apparent charges to be filed by the Nigerian Government. The issues related to this latest set of charges involve violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) that occurred between 1994 and 2004.
William P. Utt joined KBR in February 2006 and the remainder of KBR’s executive team was appointed thereafter. No one on KBR’s current executive team was involved in the FCPA violations. KBR in no way condones or tolerates illegal or unethical behavior. Conducting our business with the utmost integrity is at the core of the work we perform each day.
The actions of the Nigerian government suggest that its officials are wildly and wrongly asserting blame in this matter.
KBR will continue to vigorously defend itself and its executives if necessary, in this matter.