Monday, January 26, 2009

Let's hear from Cheney on Halliburton fine

What we don't know, and need to, about the Halliburton Co.'s decision to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to stop a U.S. government investigation into charges of bribery by its KBR unit in Nigeria is whether Vice President Cheney was involved. The settlement announced Monday, under which Halliburton will pay a $559 million fine, still awaits final approval from the U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission, according to the Reuters international news service. The investigation concerns allegations that KBR violated U.S. law by paying kickbacks to Nigerian government officials to win approval to construct and expand a liquid natural gas facility at Bonny Island. If true, the payments would violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which makes illegal for U.S. companies or their agents to use bribes to win foreign business. Some of the allegations date back 20 years, Reuters said, including when Cheney was chief executive officer of Halliburton. A Halliburton CEO after Cheney, Albert "Jack" Stanley, pleaded guilty in September to charges stemming from a scheme to pay $180 million in bribes to Nigerian officials relating to the Bonny Island LNG plant, Reuters said. Stanley worked under Cheney when he headed Halliburton and agreed to cooperate with U.S. investigators. Cheney left Halliburton in 2000 to run for office with George W. Bush. Bush and Cheney left office last week after eight years in power. KBR had no comment on the proposed settlement, Reuters said. Halliburton reported in regulatory filings in July that it was in settlement talks with the government, the news service said.

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