Dick Cheney could be charge in Halliburton Case

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When lashing out at the Justice Department’s crackdown on bribery, some critics say the agency fails to mind its own beeswax.

In applying the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, Justice has repeatedly targeted foreign-based companies and non-U.S. citizens for overseas bribery charges with the justification that they are fair game because the companies trade on U.S. exchanges. The critics say DOJ should stick to its home constituency and focus on U.S. companies.

Now, Nigeria is following suit. The nation’s anti-corruption agency says it will charge Dick Cheney in connection to a $180 million bribery case tied to a one-time subsidiary of Halliburton. Besides being the former vice president, Cheney once ran Halliburton, heading it up during part of the time the alleged bribery occurred.

This Financial Times report says in this story that the threat of charges against Cheney comes after the detention of 10 Halliburton staff by Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. Halliburton’s country chief was also summoned, the FT said.

Last year Halliburton and KBR, the former unit which was split in 2007, paid a record $579 million fine after pleading guilty to charges that KBR had spent $180 million in bribes between 1994 and 2004 to win contracts.

“We are filing charges against Cheney,” an EFCC spokesman told the Reuters news agency. The spokesman did not give further details and did not respond to the FT’s requests for comment.

Halliburton did not immediately return a request for comment from the LawBlog, and Cheney could not immediately be reached. KBR declined comment on the possible Cheney charges.

Nigeria is well known by groups that monitor bribery to be one of the world’s most corrupt places to do business. With its vast oil reserves, Nigeria has played host to a number of oil and oil services companies who have been caught in the DOJ’s crosshairs over allegations of shady payments to government officials there.

Halliburton has called the detention of its staff “an affront to justice,” the FT said.

It’s worth noting that in the same case, DOJ has extended its reach overseas to charge two British citizens with bribery, Wojciech Chodan and Jeffery Tesler, both of whom have been fighting extradition. The two could not immediately be reached for comment.

The FCPA blog reports that Chodan, indicted in February 2009 by a federal grand jury in Houston, is being sent by the U.K. to our shores, “within the next 10 days to stand trial over his alleged role in a huge international bribery scandal,” according to a story in the Guardian. Tesler lost his extradition hearing in March.

The FCPA blog says they were charged in the U.S. with one count of conspiracy to violate and ten counts of violating the FCPA. They face up to 55 years in prison if convicted on all counts. The indictment also seeks forfeiture from them of more than $132 million, the amount of the bribes U.S. prosecutors claim they arranged to pay on behalf of KBR and its partners to Nigerian officials.

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