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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Nigeria down corruption case against Dick Cheney for 250 Millions Dollars

Former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney will no longer be pursued on corruption charges by the Nigerian government.

Officials, including former U.S. President George H.W. Bush and former Secretary of State James Baker, acting for Cheney and the company he once headed, Halliburton, met with Nigerian officials in London last week soon after formal charges were filed against the former vice president, and others, in Nigeria's Federal Court in Abuja. It is believed Bush and Baker took part via video-conferencing.

At the meeting the Halliburton negotiating team pledged to pay Nigeria $250 million in return for all charges being dropped.

On Friday Nigeria's anti-corruption body, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) announced the settlement offer, which it described as a "plea bargain" had been accepted, and all charges had been dropped. The giant military contractor and energy services company will pay the $250 million as fines.

The corruption charges stem from claims by EFCC that Cheney, and other Halliburton officials had offered bribes of millions of dollars to Nigerians to secure tender contracts. Payments of bribes by U.S. companies to foreigners to secure business are illegal under U.S. law. It is not known whether the U.S. Justice Department will investigate the allegations.

Halliburton refused to comment on the latest developments, other than confirming all charges had been dropped. The company has previously denied the claims against it and the company's officials.

The charges concern bribes allegedly paid by Halliburton subsidiary KBR from 1994 to 2004. Cheney served as CEO and then CEO and Chairman of Halliburton from 1996 until he assumed the vice presidency in January 2001. Before joining Halliburton he served as Secretary of Defense under President George Bush Snr.,

Last year KBR admitted it paid $180 million in bribes to secure $6 billion natural gas construction contracts at the Niger Delta, Bonny Island, natural gas liquefaction plant.

Friday's decision has been met with derision in Nigeria. "I would have loved to see Dick Cheney in chains in our court and facing justice in our prisons," Celestine AkpoBari, program officer at Social Action Nigeria said Friday. "That would have been a very big point that would have lifted Nigeria out of its woes."

Emmanuel Ulayi, executive director of the Civic Duties Awareness Initiative (CIDAI), an organization that ensures "Nigerians adhere to their civic responsibilities," was also critical of the decision. He described the settlement as evidence that “the fight against corruption is dead and has never been real in Nigeria." He said if the Nigerian government was serious about rooting out corruption "it would not have reached this kind of understanding."

Owei Lakemfa, a columnist for Nigeria's Daily Vanguard, said Friday Cheney "is an international crook who should be in jail in his country, Iraq, Netherlands, Afghanistan, Britain, Azerbaijan or in Nigeria...but unfortunately, the scales of justice are not balanced, so he will escape justice with his loot."

KBR was awarded a number of non-compete tenders worth billions of dollars leading up to, and during, the Iraq War.

African News Desk - Nigeria down corruption case against Dick Cheney for 250 Millions Dollars

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