Nigerian officials said on Thursday they would charge former US vice president Dick Cheney over a massive bribery scandal related to his time at the helm of oil services giant Halliburton.
Halliburton unit KBR pleaded guilty last year in the US to bribing Nigerian officials to the tune of US$180 million in return for US$6 billion worth of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) contracts in the oil hub Bonny Island.
Halliburton denied involvement in the offences dating back to between 1995 and 2005, but a top company official and other staff were summoned by Nigeria’s anti-graft agency following raids last week on company offices in Lagos.
Prosecutor Godwin Obla said joint charges would be filed by Tuesday at a high court in the capital Abuja against Cheney, the former and current leadership of Halliburton, and the consortium they partnered with.
“As the CEO of Halliburton, he has the responsibility for acts that occurred during that period,” Obla told reporters, adding that Cheney would face conspiracy charges and an arrest warrant from Interpol would be sought.
A spokesman from the Nigerian Economic and Financial Crimes Commission confirmed the imminent charges, which follow an investigation into the construction of the LNG plant in southern Nigeria.
Cheney’s lawyer in the US, Terrence O’Donnell, dismissed the allegations and issued a statement saying: “Any suggestion of misconduct on his part, made now, years later, is entirely baseless.”
“The [US] Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission [SEC] investigated that joint venture extensively and found no suggestion of any impropriety by Dick Cheney in his role of CEO of Halliburton,” it said.
Companies in the TSKJ consortium involved in the plant included France’s Technip, Snamprogetti (formerly a subsidiary of a company owned by Italy’s Eni), Kellogg Brown and Root (KBR) and Japan’s JGC.
KBR is a former subsidiary of Halliburton, where Cheney served as chief executive before becoming vice president under former US president George W. Bush following elections in 2000.
US authorities said last year that Halliburton and KBR had agreed to pay US$177 million to settle charges from the SEC in the US.
KBR agreed to pay a further US$402 million to settle criminal charges brought by the US Department of Justice.
In October, a Nigerian court charged a personal aide to former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo in a related probe and earlier this week, anti-corruption authorities summoned a top local official from Halliburton.