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Nigeria makes conspiracy charges against Cheney

by Adam Russett on December 8, 2010

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Nigeria's anti-corruption agency, filed charges against former Vice President Dick Cheney on Tuesday for conspiracy and bribery in connection with Halliburton.

The oil company's former subsidiary KBR allegedly bribed Nigerian officials for $180 million in exchange for a $6 billion contract allowing it to build a liquefied natural gas plant in the Niger Delta during Cheney's reign as top executive, Femi Babafemi of the EFCC told the Associated Press.

KBR, which split from Halliburton in 2007, already plead guilty to the charges last year. Sixteen new counts were filed against Cheney and eight others, including KBR ex-chairman Albert Stanley, current KBR CEO William Utt and Halliburton CEO David Lesar.

EFCC prosecuting counsel Godwin Obla told Nigeria's Daily Independent that they "think it's only fair" that they get at least $150 million from each of the companies," which include Technip SA of France, Snamprogetti SpA, a unit of Eni SpA, KBR and JGC Corp. of Japan.

"The actions of the Nigerian government suggest that its officials are wildly and wrongly asserting blame," said KBR in a statement to Bloomberg News.

Cheney's lawyer, Terrence O'Donnell, denied the charges in a statement to the AP, claiming that there was "no suggestion of any impropriety by Dick Cheney in his role of CEO of Halliburton" and that "any suggestion of misconduct on his part, made now, years later, is entirely baseless."

According to Bloomberg, Nigeria is Africa's top producer of crude oil and is the fifth-biggest U.S. supplier.

Transparency International has ranked Nigeria as one of the most corrupt countries in the world with its position as 134th out 178 countries. The indictment marks the first true test of its relatively new anti-corruption system, reports the Christian Science Monitor.

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