Nigeria handed down indictments today against former US Vice President Richard Cheney in a bribery case involving a subsidiary of Halliburton during the period in which Mr. Cheney was among Halliburton’s chief executives.
The case revolves around allegations that employees or agents of KBR, a former subsidiary of Halliburton, paid a $180 million bribe between 1994 and 2004 to secure a $6 billion contract to build a liquefied natural gas plant in the Niger Delta. KBR has already pleaded guilty to US charges of paying the $180 milllion in bribes in a case last year, and now Nigeria’s courts are taking the case to KBR’s parent company, Halliburton.
Nigerian police have already detained two employees of Halliburton for questioning.
"As the CEO of Halliburton, he has the responsibility for acts that occurred during that period," Godwin Obla, the prosecuting counsel at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in Nigeria, told the Agence France-Presse news agency.
Terence O'Donnell, a lawyer for Cheney, denied the charges.
"The Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission investigated that joint venture extensively and found no suggestion of any impropriety by Dick Cheney in his role of CEO of Halliburton," Mr. O'Donnell said in a statement sent to The Associated Press. "Any suggestion of misconduct on his part, made now, years later, is entirely baseless."
The indictment of a major US political and corporate figure marks a tough new step for Nigeria’s relatively untested anticorruption commission.
Nigeria ranks as one of the most corrupt countries in the world, ranked 134th out of 178 countries by anticorruption group Transparency International.
Nigerian activists argue that corruption is one of the main reasons why the oil-rich nation of Nigeria remains desperately poor and inefficient. Nigeria ranks 142 out of 169 nations assessed in key indicators, including security, health, education, and income.