France investigates former Halliburton executive in bribery probe
1 June 2004
PARIS, June 1 (Summary of CNN Article) -- France is investigating a former Halliburton executive for his role in a scheme to bribe the government of Nigeria in exchange for a lucrative natural gas contract. Investigators said $5 million of the bribe intended for Nigeria was deposited into the Swiss bank account of former KBR chairman, Jack Stanley, who retired from the company on December 31, 2003. This information was first reported by the French newspaper Le Figaro and confirmed by The Wall Street Journal. The bribes were allegedly made by a consortium of four companies, which included Halliburton's subsidiary KBR, for the purpose of acquiring a $5 billion contract to build a liquefied natural gas plant on Nigeria's Bonny Island. The consortium, known as TSKJ, is jointly controlled by KBR, Technip SA of France, Japan Gasoline Corp. and a unit of Italy's ENI SpA (E). The contracts were awarded in 1995 and 1999 when current U.S. vice president Richard Cheney was CEO of Halliburton. In addition, French investigators are probing $180 million in payments made by the consortium to a Gibraltar company and have not found any legitimate business reason for the payments. The investigation is trying to determine if the payments were part of the alleged bribery scheme. The bank account controlled by KBR's Stanley allegedly received between three and five percent of the bribery payments, which were made between 1995 and 2002, according to French investigators. Although Stanley retired as chairman of KBR, he remains a consultant and keeps an office at Halliburton. If Halliburton bribed the government of Nigeria, it would be in violation of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. France began its investigation of the alleged bribery scandal last October, when the Paris public prosecutor's office began looking into a series of payments by TSKJ to a Gibraltar-based company called Tristar. According to corporation records, the only person listed as being associated with Tristar is Jeffrey Tesler, a British lawyer. Mr. Tesler gave testimony to the French investigating magistrate, Reynaud Van Ruymbeke, in May. Tesler told investigators he was unaware of payments to Mr. Stanley's account. The U.S. Justice Department continues to conduct its own investigation into Halliburton's involvement in the alleged scandal, according to Halliburton's filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Halliburton retained the Houston law firm Baker Botts LLP to handle its internal investigation into the allegations. Baker Botts was founded by James Baker, who was employed as Secretary of State under President George H. Bush.