Nigeria : George Bush Sr. gets Nigeria to drop charges on Cheney

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Bush Sr., James Baker Instrumental in Getting Nigeria to Drop Bribery Charges Against Cheney


By Jason Leopold

Global Research, December 18, 2010
t r u t h o u t


Former President George H.W. Bush and ex-Secretary of State James Baker were part of a negotiating team that convinced Nigerian government officials to drop bribery charges against Dick Cheney and Halliburton, the oil services firm he led prior to becoming vice president.

Bush and Baker, whose law firm was hired by Halliburton in 2004 to handle the bribery allegations, participated in conference call discussions with senior Nigerian government officials, including the country's attorney general, Mohammed Adoke, last weekend on behalf of Cheney in an attempt to work out a settlement, according to a report published by an African news agency.

The negotiations took place in London and included Halliburton represenatives.

On Friday, Femi Babafemi, a spokesman for Nigeria's Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the agency that filed the 16-count indictment last week, said the case against Cheney, Halliburton and several other current and former executives has been "formally dropped."

Earlier this week, Babafemi said Halliburton agreed during negotiation talks to a "plea bargain" and to "pay $250 million in fines in lieu of prosecution." He said the Nigerian government accepted the terms of the settlement.

Last week, after the indictment was filed in Abuja, Nigeria's capitol, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, "We do not believe that there will be a basis for further action (requiring Cheney to respond to the charges), but we will look into it."

Moreover, Johnnie Carson, the US Assistant Secretary, Bureau of African Affairs, told reporters during a conference call last week that the US government was closely following the case against Cheney and had already engaged in discussions about it with Nigerian authorities.

As Truthout previously reported, the charges revolve around $180 million in bribes executives who worked for Halliburton's former subsidiary, Kellogg, Brown & Root (KBR) paid to Nigerian government officials between 1994 and 2004 in exchange for $6 billion in construction contracts for the Bonny Island natural gas liquefaction plant. Nigeria is Africa's largest crude oil producer. [Click here for a complete timeline.]

KBR, which also has handled lucrative US government support contracts for US troops in Iraq and elsewhere, was spun off from Halliburton in 2007 into a separate company. Nigerian officials had also charged KBR in the bribery case.

The bribes allegedly went to the notoriously corrupt Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha and some of his subordinates and were allegedly 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 (EPC) contracts by Nigeria LNG Ltd., (NLNG). Tesler was indicted last year by the Department of Justice, which has been conducting its own probe into the matter, and he is fighting extradition to the US.

Baker's alleged involvement in the settlement talks is not surprising given that his law firm, Baker Botts, was hired by Halliburton in 2004 to conduct an internal probe into the bribery scandal. During the investigation, James Doty, a partner at Baker Botts who led the probe, "discovered" notes written by former KBR employees indicating the firm "may" have bribed Nigerian government officials in exchange for lucrative contracts. Doty, served as general counsel of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) under Bush senior.

More recently, the SEC had questioned Cheney during its two-year-long probe of Halliburton's accounting irregularities and concluded that he should not be held responsible for what went on behind the scenes at the company he ran between 1995 and 2000.





www.globalresearch.ca
 

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