Halliburton acting 'evasive' in bribery probe
23 Aug. 2004
WASHINGTON, Aug. 23 (HalliburtonWatch.org) -- Halliburton has been "evasive" in responding to allegations that it bribed Nigerian government officials in exchange for a natural gas contract, the Financial Times reported today. The chairman of a Nigerian government committee complained to the Times that Halliburton has been reluctant to provide evidence, including information on contractual relationships that could prove or disprove the bribery allegations. He called for banning Halliburton and its partner firms -- collectively known as "TSKJ" -- from future government contracts in Nigeria. TSKJ is jointly owned by Technip of France, Italy's Snamprogetti, JGC of Japan and Halliburton's KBR subsidiary. The bribes allegedly took place between 1995 and 2002, which would include the period when U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney was CEO of Halliburton. The total value of the bribes is reportedly estimated at $180 million.###
"We continue to work with government agencies to achieve resolution on this matter," Halliburton told the Times in a prepared statement. "All of our business is clearly legal," it said. But if the bribes did take place, it would be a violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, a U.S. law which bans American companies from bribing foreign governments.
Investigators say TSKJ used the firm Tri-Star, operated by London lawyer Jeffrey Tesler, to channel bribe money from TSKJ to government officials in Nigeria. Written agreements between the two firms show that TSKJ provided Tri-Star with $143.5 million ostensibly for "promoting" TSKJ in Nigeria and "maintaining good relations" with Nigeria's government and business community, the Times reported. "According to the contracts, Tri-Star commits not to make payments to government officials," said the newspaper. But investigators in Nigeria, France and the United States continue to maintain that the money may have been used for bribery.
Investigators also believe $5 million of the alleged bribe money was kicked-back to members of the conspiracy, including A. Jack Stanley, the chairman of KBR at the time. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission issued a subpoena to Stanley in June and is conducting a formal investigation into the matter. Meanwhile, Halliburton terminated its relationship with Stanley after accusing him of accepting "improper personal benefits" related to work in Nigeria.
In a prepared statement, Halliburton said it "does not believe it has violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, although there can be no assurance that the government or the Company's internal investigation will not conclude otherwise."