Opinion: Dick Cheney and Halliburton avoid bribery charges in Nigeria ... by forking over $250 million


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Former Vice President Dick Cheney got an early Christmas gift, courtesy of the Nigerian government.

Seems he and his former company, Halliburton, found themselves in some hot water when they were accused of ‘improper payments to government officials in Nigeria in connection with the construction and subsequent expansion by a joint venture known as TSKJ of a natural gas liquefaction project on Bonny Island, Nigeria, in which Halliburton’s former subsidiary KBR Inc. had an approximate 25 percent interest,’ a Halliburton news release said.


The natural gas project contract in question was worth $6 billion, Femi Babafemi, a spokesman for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, told the Associated Press.

Last year Halliburton and KBR pleaded guilty in a U.S. court of paying off the Nigerian officials more than $180 million in bribes when Cheney was chief executive of Haliburton and were fined a record $579 million under the Foreign Corrupt Practices act, and a top KBR executive, Albert ‘Jack’ Stanley was sentenced to seven years in prison.

One of Cheney’s lawyers, Terrence O’Donnell, said Cheney had nothing to do with it. ‘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 wrote in a statement to the Associated Press. ‘Any suggestion of misconduct on his part, made now, years later, is entirely baseless.’

Meanwhile, the Nigerians still wanted a pound of flesh, and because it appears to be easy for a multibillion-dollar energy company like Halliburton to throw money at problems, that’s what they seem to have done. Halliburton and KBR will pay $32.5 million to the Nigerian government and $2.5 million to the Nigerian lawyers, and release some frozen assets in a Swiss bank account to the Africans. Total payout: about $250 million.

In return, Cheney, Halliburton, and KBR can walk away from the situation, and the Nigerians get even more than the original $180 million from the former vice president’s company.

Merry Christmas to all except for the fictional Internet-famous Nigerian prince(s) who were not taken care of in the settlement, so expect their pleas to continue to fill spam folders everywhere.


-- Tony Pierce