Halliburton Co. said an internal investigation has uncovered documents indicating officials of a consortium it now leads discussed bribing public officials in Nigeria in order to secure a multibillion-dollar contract there.
The investigation centers on the construction of a gargantuan natural-gas liquefaction plant on the Nigerian coast, beginning in January 1996 and continuing today. A consortium led by a company later acquired by Halliburton won the lucrative contract, which will be valued at a total of $8.1 billion when the project is completed.
In the past 10 days, Halliburton says, its lawyers discovered notes written between 1993 and 1998* that suggest consortium executives discussed bribes to Nigerian officials to win their support and ensure that the consortium won the contract. Halliburton says it has turned over the evidence to investigators in the U.S., France and Nigeria, who already had been investigating the consortium. Halliburton declined to reveal the names and positions of the people who discussed the bribery scheme.
This latest disclosure by the Houston oilfield-services company comes amid questions as to whether the consortium created a $140 million slush fund that was funneled through a British lawyer named Jeffrey Tesler, who was a consultant to the consortium. Mr. Tesler is under investigation by a French magistrate, though he hasn't been charged with any crime. Mr. Tesler declined to comment on his role and, through his lawyer, has denied any wrongdoing.
Halliburton said it is unclear from the newest documents whether money actually was distributed either to local leaders or high-ranking government officials. At the time the notes were written, Nigeria was ruled by the military dictator Sani Abacha, whose regime was marked by centralized control and human-right abuses.
The documents, described as contemporaneous notes of conversations and meetings, indicate "people may at the time have been planning or contemplating the necessity of money for the purpose of making bribes. There is no way to read these materials and not be concerned about that," says James Doty, an attorney with Baker Botts LLP**, an outside law firm brought in by Halliburton this year to examine the matter.
The notes end in 1998, shortly after Halliburton acquired Dresser Industries Inc., which led the consortium through its M.W. Kellogg Co. unit. The consortium, called TSKJ, also includes France's Technip SA, the Snamprogetti unit of Italy's ENI SpA, and JGC Corp. of Japan.
The merger was overseen by Halliburton's then-chief executive, Dick Cheney, now the nation's vice president.
*Cheney was Halliburton's CEO from 1995 until 2000.
**James Addison Baker III was the man chosen by Dick Cheney to oversee the Florida recount for the BC2000 campaign. Given the ties to Cheney, how objective can this "examination" possibly be?
They can throw as much "compassionate" folderol at us as they can, but the facts remain the same: the only way the hedonistic greed of the Republican Party will more vicious or sinful than it is today is if the American people are foolish enough to give the country to these charlatans.
The GOP's true political base is an all-white country club in a Texas suburb. In other words, hell.