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Nigeria drops charges against Halliburton, Cheney

Nigeria's anti-corruption agency said on Friday it had dropped bribery charges against former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney and oil services company Halliburton after the company agreed to pay a fine.

"It was formally dropped today," Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) spokesman Femi Babafemi said. He said the Nigerian government had agreed to an offer made by Halliburton to pay fines totalling up to $250 million.

Halliburton, which has said the Nigerian charges have no legal basis, confirmed that they were dropped but declined additional comment.

The EFCC said it received the offer when it met with officials representing Cheney and Halliburton in London last week after filing 16-count charges at a federal high court in Abuja in a case dating back to the mid-1990s.

Cheney served as U.S. vice president under George W. Bush from 2001 to 2009.

Houston-based engineering firm KBR, a former Halliburton unit, pleaded guilty last year to U.S. charges that it paid $180 million in bribes between 1994 and 2004 to Nigerian officials to secure $6 billion in contracts for the Bonny Island liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in the Niger Delta.

KBR and Halliburton reached a $579 million settlement in the United States. But Nigeria, France and Switzerland have conducted their own investigations into the case.

The EFCC last week charged Halliburton Chief Executive David Lesar, Cheney, and two other executives. It also filed charges against Halliburton as a company, which was headed by Cheney during the 1990s, and four associated businesses.

Halliburton split from KBR in 2007. It has said that its current operations in Nigeria -- raided by the EFCC last month -- were not involved in the Bonny project and that there is no legal basis for the charges.

Babafemi said although the investigation into Halliburton was over, the EFCC was still pursuing a case against a number of Nigerians who it says accepted bribes from the U.S. firm.

Shares of Halliburton fell 31 cents, or less than 1 percent, to $39.96 in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

18 December 2010   

 

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