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Halliburton paid bribes during Cheney's reign, say investigators
1 Oct. 2004

WASHINGTON, Oct. 1 (HalliburtonWatch.org) -- The Nigerian parliament issued an interim report on its investigation of allegations that Halliburton's KBR subsidiary, along with three other companies, bribed government officials during the period when U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney was CEO. The parliament's report was released Sept. 1. Read the report here. (Note: the report is formatted in Adobe Acrobat Reader.)

On Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal provided a well-researched report on the scandal. Read it here. (Note: only subscribers to the Journal can access the story.)

The Nigerian parliament's report requests the testimony of Halliburton's current CEO, David Lesar, who was Cheney's number two man when a good portion of the bribes allegedly took place. Investigators in France believe $180 million in bribes were disbursed to Nigerian officials between 1995 and 2002. Cheney was chief executive of Halliburton from 1995 to 2000, but his role in the case, if any, is still unclear. The purpose of the bribes was to entice Nigeria's government officials to award an $8 billion construction contract to a partnership known as "TSKJ," of which Halliburton's KBR subsidiary owns 25 percent.

The Financial Times of London reported last month that newly disclosed evidence by investigators "raises questions over what Mr Cheney knew - or should have known - about one of the largest contracts awarded to a Halliburton subsidiary." According to the Times, investigators say Halliburton hired a London lawyer to funnel bribes to Nigeria's government during the period when Cheney was CEO. The lawyer, Jeffrey Tesler, was hired by Halliburton despite objections lodged by the other partners in TSKJ. In addition, in 1998 Cheney hired the chairman of KBR, A. Jack Stanley, who was fired by Halliburton this year after investigators accused him of being involved in the bribery scandal. Moreover, Halliburton admitted last month that the company's KBR subsidiary "may" have bribed Nigeria's government to win the $8 billion construction contract. The company is continuing its own internal investigation.

Since one of the partners in TSKJ is a French-based company, the government of France is conducting a criminal investigation. The U.S. Justice Department is conducting an investigation as well.

The U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act bans American companies from bribing foreign officials, but obtaining contracts from notoriously corrupt governments like Nigeria is almost impossible without paying bribes. The Wall Street Journal reported, "Despite the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and similar antibribery laws in Europe, the pressure [from foreign officials] to cut deals is enormous." Halliburton recently announced it "does not believe it has violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, although there can be no assurance that the government or the Company's internal investigation will not conclude otherwise."

The interim report from Nigeria's parliament describes a comical attempt by Halliburton to avoid answering questions in the case. In what the report called Halliburton's "hide and seek games" to avoid investigators, company executives in Nigeria actually claimed KBR is not a subsidiary of Halliburton. Nigerian investigators have complained that Halliburton was "evasive" in answering questions.

Press reports show Halliburton is attempting to distance itself from the TSKJ joint venture at the center of the scandal. Halliburton spokespeople have said KBR is not a central figure in the TSKJ partnership. But Nigeria's interim report disputes that assertion, saying "Although the four companies in the TSKJ consortium own equal shares (25% each) ... KBR remains the main driver...."

More Information:

The Independent on Sunday U.K.: How Cheney's Firm Routed $132m to Nigeria via Tottenham Lawyer

HalliburtonWatch: Bribing Nigeria