Former Vice President Dick Cheney and nine other people, including executives from his energy services company, face charges of bribery from Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, according to CNN.
Nigerian investigators said Dec. 7 Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR), a former engineering subsidiary of Cheney’s Halliburton Company, paid bribes of $180 million from 1994 to 2004 to secure $6 billion in contracts for a gas project in the Niger Delta.
The charges against Chaney cover the period when he was CEO of Halliburton from 1995 until his retirement in 2000 to become the vice presidential running mate of the then Texas Governor George W. Bush. Cheney had previously been the Secretary of Defense in the administration of President George H. W. Bush in the 1980’s.
The group is accused of 16 counts of corruption charges including conspiracy and distribution of gratification to public officials.
Cheney’s lawyer called the charges “entirely baseless” and said investigators “found no suggestion of any impropriety by Dick Cheney,” CNN and Global Post reported. But KBR previously plead guilty to paying bribes to Nigerian officials prior to 2007 in U.S. federal court and agreed to pay $597 million in fines, according to the Associated Press.
Halliburton and four other firms allegedly paid the bribes to win a contract to build a liquefied natural gas plant in Nigeria’s oil-rich southern delta, the Global Post reported.
Halliburton is now negotiating a plea bargain in the new case, Femi Babafemi, spokesman for the anti-corruption group that filed the charges with Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, told reporters.
The plea might involve a $500 million settlement. Cheney and others face three-year sentences in a Nigerian prison if convicted.
Three other companies also face charges, including Technip SA, a European oilfield services provider; Eni SpA, Italy’s largest oil company; and Saipem Construction Co., an Eni company.
Nigerian officials are increasingly bringing corruption charges against western companies, Global Post reported. A Swiss freight company is currently under investigation for bribery charges made to Nigerian customs officials.
“What we are seeing shows how western multinational companies are fueling corruption in countries like Nigeria. They are perpetrating crimes they cannot commit back home,” Philip Jakpor of the nongovernmental group, Environmental Rights Action, told Global Post.