Here’s the background, as reported by Jason Leopold of Truthout:
Cheney and other current and former Halliburton executives were charged with bribery and corruption in a 16-count indictment filed in a high-court in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital….
The charges revolve around $180 million in bribes allegedly paid to Nigerian government officials between 1994 and 2004 to win $6 billion in construction contracts for the Bonny Island natural gas liquefaction plant. The bribes allegedly went to the (late) notoriously corrupt Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha (photo above, right) and some of his subordinates. Cheney was chairman and chief executive of Halliburton from 1995 to 2000.
The cash bribes allegedly were laundered through UK lawyer Jeffrey Tesler, who served as a consultant to KBR after it was formed in a 1998 merger that Cheney engineered between Halliburton and Dresser Industries. Tesler was hired in 1995 as an agent of a four-company joint venture that was awarded four engineering, procurement and construction contracts by Nigeria LNG Ltd.,. Tesler was indicted last year and he is fighting extradition to the US.
Also named in the indictment filed in Nigeria last week are KBR’s former chief executive Albert “Jack” Stanley, KBR’s current CEO William Utt and Halliburton CEO David Lesar.
In September 2008, Stanley pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud to settle charges related to a separate kickback scheme and for conspiring to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in connection with the Nigeria bribery case.
According to the Department of Justice’s plea agreement, Stanley started paying bribes in 1995, the year Cheney was named chief executive of the corporation, and ended when Stanley was fired in 2004. Stanley faces seven years in prison and nearly $11 million in restitution payments. He remains free on bail pending a sentencing hearing scheduled for January.
Last year, KBR admitted that it paid $180 million in “consulting fees” to Tesler and a Japanese trading company for use in bribing Nigerian government officials. KBR paid a $402 million fine and $177 million in civil penalties as part of its plea deal.
Two weeks ago, the DOJ announced that Tesler’s associate, Wojciech J. Chodan, the former vice president to KBR’s UK subsidiary, pleaded guilty …. in the bribery scandal.
Chodan, who was extradited to the United States from England, is scheduled to be sentenced in February and faces a maximum five years in federal prison.
Leopold reports today that Nigeria’s anti-corruption unit, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, met with representatives for Halliburton and Cheney in London last weekend “in an attempt to hammer out a deal.” Leopold says the Halliburton representatives offered to pay $250 million in what is euphemistically described as “fines,” and Nigerian authorities are poised to accept the offer. Femi Babafemi, a spokesman for the Commission, said it “will need to be ratified by the government” but I bet the government will take the money.
That’s the way things work these days.
In my book the $250 million is just another bribe to keep Cheney and his associates out of prison.
But I am obviously being naive. If you’re looking for justice today, I wish you luck.
Money talks – and moneyed felons walk.