Nigeria 'to charge Dick Cheney' over alleged bribery


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Nigeria 'to charge Dick Cheney' over alleged bribery

AFP/File – Nigerian authorities plan to charge ex-US vice president Dick Cheney

by M.J. Smith M.j. Smith – Thu Dec 2, 9:09 am ET

LAGOS (AFP) – Nigerian authorities plan to charge ex-US vice president Dick Cheney in connection with a bribery scandal allegedly involving energy firm Halliburton, a spokesman for the anti-graft agency said Thursday.

Asked whether Cheney would be charged over the investigation, Femi Babafemi said, "it's true ... definitely."

The spokesman could not give details on the charges that he says are likely to be filed next week, but said "they are not unconnected to his role as the chief executive of Halliburton."

"I'm hoping to have a copy of that early in the week," he said of the specific charges.

Nigeria's Guardian newspaper also reported that Cheney would be charged.

Cheney served as head of Halliburton before becoming vice president under George W. Bush. Babafemi said the charges would be connected to a probe into a deal involving construction of a liquefied natural gas plant.

The case involves an alleged 182 million dollar cash-for-contract scandal over 10 years until 2005 over construction of the LNG plant in southern Nigeria. Halliburton has denied involvement in the allegations.

US authorities said last year that Halliburton and its former subsidiary Kellogg Brown and Root (KBR) had agreed to pay 579 million dollars in fines related to the case.

It was one of the biggest fines ever paid by US companies in a foreign corruption case.

In October, a Nigerian Court charged a personal aide to ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo in a probe linked to the case. Babafemi said that case is likely to be amended to include Cheney and others.

Earlier this week, Nigerian anti-corruption authorities summoned top local officials from Shell and Halliburton as part of separate investigations into alleged bribery.

Authorities also raided Halliburton's office in Lagos last week and detained 10 people -- eight Nigerians and two expatriates -- who have since been released as investigations continue. Documents were taken as well.

The Shell executive was to be questioned over recent cases settled in the United States that saw oil services companies and freight forwarding firm Panalpina World Transport Holding Ltd. pay nearly 240 million dollars.

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

Nigeria is one of the world's largest oil producers, but corruption remains deeply entrenched. Non-governmental organisations consistently rank the country as one of the world's most corrupt.

Babafemi's agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, was established to probe Corruption allegeations and has carried out a series of high-profile prosecutions.

Cheney was one of the United States' most powerful and controversial vice presidents, as well as a driving force behind Bush's "war on terror."

He has struggled with a series of health problems related to heart ailments

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