Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has filed charges against former Vice President Dick Cheney and the head of oil services firm Halliburton, over an alleged $180 million scheme to bribe Nigerian officials.
The EFCC filed 16-count charges at a federal high court in Abuja on Tuesday against Cheney, who once headed Halliburton, David Lesar, Halliburton Chief Executive, and two other executives of the company, in a case that dates back to the 1990s.
Halliburton Pleaded Guilty
Houston-based engineering firm KBR, a former unit of Halliburton, pleaded guilty last year to U.S. charges that between 1994 and 2004, it paid $180 million in bribes to Nigerian officials to secure $6 billion in contracts for the Bonny Island liquefied natural gas project in the Niger Delta.
At that time, KBR and Halliburton reached a $579 million settlement in the United States, but Nigeria, France and Switzerland have conducted their own investigations into the case. This was one of the biggest fines ever paid by a U.S. company in a foreign corruption case.
Destruction Of The Niger Delta
Given that the oil industry in the Niger Delta has brought impoverishment, conflict, human rights abuses and despair to the majority of the 31 million people living there, it would be nice if they could benefit from any settlement in this case.
Amnesty International Speaks Out
From Amnesty International: Pollution and environmental damage caused by the oil industry have resulted in violations of the rights to health and a healthy environment, the right to an adequate standard of living (including the right to food and water) and the right to gain a living through work for hundreds of thousands of people.
“Oil companies have been exploiting Nigeria’s weak regulatory system for too long,” said Audrey Gaughran of Amnesty International. “They do not adequately prevent environmental damage and they frequently fail to properly address the devastating impact that their bad practice has on people’s lives.”
For the record, Halliburton is the world’s second largest oilfield services corporation with operations in more than 70 countries. It has hundreds of subsidiaries, affiliates, branches, brands and divisions worldwide and employs over 50,000 people. Net income for 2009 was $1,145 million.
Former British KBR Executive Pleads Guilty
In a related story, a former British executive of KBR pleaded guilty in the same case on Monday, December 6, in a federal court in Houston, Texas. Wojciech Chodam was extradited from Britain to face charges in the U.S. and can now expect to spend five years in prison, with sentencing predicted for February 22, 2011.
Could the same punishment happen to Dick Cheney?
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