Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Nigeria: Halliburton - U.S. Unlikely to Release Cheney for Trial

Daily Independent (Lagos)
6 December 2010

Washington DC — It may not be possible to bring former American Vice President Dick Cheney to court in Nigeria for his alleged role in the Halliburton bribery scandal.

He is holed up in his posh St. Michael's mansion in Maryland, United States.
Besides, President Barack Obama is unlikely to hand him over, according to administration officials.

St. Michael's is a get-away fishing town for millionaires and former government officials.
Cheney is not only respected by the Republican leaning community, he is protected round the clock by the Secret Service.

His personal security detail has been beefed up since Abuja announced plans to try him for the alleged bribery.

"We have received requests from Nigeria but the current administration will not send a former American Vice President to a foreign country for trial" a top administration official told Daily Independent in Washington.
The administration has not made a formal request on Cheney based on Nigeria's demand, but a State Department official said sending Cheney to Nigeria is "out of the question."

From 1995 to 2000, Cheney was Halliburton Chief Executive Officer (CEO), the period in which the bribe was paid out.

Just before he joined the company, a consortium known as TSKJ was incorporated in Madeira, Portugal, that consisted of M.W. Kellogg, Technip of France, Italy's Snamprogetti, and Japan Gasoline Corp.

The partnership submitted a bid to Nigeria LNG, a company partly owned by the Nigerian Government, to work on multibillion-Dollar natural gas liquefaction complex and related facilities on Bonny Island, Rivers State.

TSKJ was awarded the contract in December 1995.

A little more than two years later, M.W. Kellogg was acquired by Halliburton and merged with Brown & Root to create Kellogg, Brown & Root (KBR), an acquisition directed by Cheney.
Albert Jack Stanley, the Chairman, President, and CEO Kellogg, was appointed to head the new company.
Cheney told the Middle East Economic Digest in 1999 that, "We took Jack Stanley ... to head the organisation, and that has helped tremendously."

Investigators would later reveal that between 1995 and 2002, Stanley's business associates had paid more than $166 million in "advisory fees" - part of which was paid out during Cheney's time at Halliburton.
It is difficult to figure out who knew what at the time, but Stanley, as KBR Chairman, was part of Cheney's inner circle.

Stanley reported directly to David Lesar, Halliburton President and Chief Operating Officer (COO) at the time, who in turn reported to Cheney.

Notes written by M.W. Kellogg employees in the mid-1990s mentioned bribing Nigerian officials, evidence that, according to the Financial Times, "raises questions over what Cheney knew - or should have known - about one of the largest contracts awarded to a Halliburton subsidiary.
"Stanley stayed in his job as KBR Chairman until December 2003 when he retired, and became a consultant to Halliburton.

In June 2004, Halliburton fired Stanley after investigators turned up evidence that he had violated the company's "code of business conduct" by accepting "improper personal benefits" of $5 million related to construction work in Nigeria.

The U.S. Justice Department said it is, however, investigating to discover if Cheney broke any American law.
"If he broke any law, he will be tried here in the U.S, and not outside the country," an official stated.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) disclosed on December 2 that it is preparing charges against Cheney, in connection with the $180 million bribery scandal allegedly involving Halliburton.
EFCC Spokesman Femi Babafemi confirmed the plan and disclosed that the charges will reflect the role Cheney allegedly played in the scam when he was Halliburton Chairman and CEO between 1995 and 2000.

The charges will be ready this week, he said, and are connected with the construction of a liquefied natural gas plant in Bonny.

Last week, the EFCC summoned top local officials from Halliburton as part of the investigations.
The summons came a few days after the EFCC raided the Halliburton office in Lagos, arrested 11 officials, and seized documents.

The EFCC also raided Shell's office in Lagos in a separate investigation of a $240 million bribery scandal, arresting its executive who was to be questioned over recent cases settled in the U.S. involving Panalpina World Transport.

The allegations involved alleged bribery in a range of countries, including Nigeria.
Shell agreed to pay some $48 million as part of the settlements.

Asked whether Cheney would be charged over the Halliburton scam, Babafemi said, "It's true ... definitely."
Cheney served as Halliburton CEO before becoming Vice President under George W. Bush from 2001 to 2009.

American authorities said last year that Halliburton and its former subsidiary, KBR, had agreed to pay $579 million in fines related to the matter, one of the biggest fines ever paid by U.S. companies in a foreign corruption case.

In October this year, an aide to former President Olusegun Obasanjo was charged to court in Abuja in a probe linked to the scam.

Babafemi said the case is likely to be amended to include Cheney and others.
Nigeria is one of the world's largest oil producers, but corruption remains deeply entrenched, necessitating the establishment of the EFCC in 2004 to clean it up.  View the original article here
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