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Charlie Cray

Charlie Cray

Posted: February 28, 2007 07:40 PM

Will Halliburton Bribery Case Haunt Cheney?


The Libby trial has provided a glimpse into the Cheney mob's operations, but it's hard to imagine that it will lead to an indictment of old Daddy Warbucks himself.

No, if I had to bet on any investigation that could come back and bite him in the ass, it might be the Halliburton Nigeria bribery case, which I've followed for a while, building a chronology and blogging about before.

A new ripple in the case was revealed today in the company's annual 10-K report to shareholders, where (starting on page 55) they update the story, revealing that the Nigeria bribes, some of which occurred on Cheney's watch as CEO), may have been just the tip of the iceberg:

"In addition, information uncovered in the summer of 2006 suggests that, prior to 1998, plans may have been made by employees of The M.W. Kellogg Company to make payments to government officials in connection with the pursuit of a number of other projects in countries outside of Nigeria. We are reviewing a number of recently discovered documents related to KBR activities in countries outside of Nigeria with respect to agents for projects after 1998. Certain of the activities discussed in this paragraph involve current or former employees or persons who were or are consultants to us and our investigation continues."

"...In 2006, we suspended the services of another agent who, until such suspension, had worked for KBR outside of Nigeria on several current projects and on numerous older projects going back to the early 1980s. The suspension will continue until such time, if ever, as we can satisfy ourselves regarding the agent's compliance with applicable law and our Code of Business Conduct. In addition, we suspended the services of an additional agent on a separate current Nigerian project with respect to which we have received from a joint venture partner on that project allegations of wrongful payments made by such agent."

Some questions remain that federal investigators should be asking.

For example, does a possible pattern of bribery indicate that top officials were involved?

How could the amounts of money involved (well over $100 million in the Nigeria case alone) have escaped the notice of current CEO and then-president and COO David Lesar (to whom the Albert Jack Stanley, the person subpoenaed in the investigation by the SEC, reported at the time). Lesar, recall, was a trained accountant and former Arthur Andersen accountant who in turn reported to Cheney, who told the public that he got "good advice" from his old friends at Arthur Andersen, before the firm got caught shredding documents in the Enron case.

Although the case is likely to drag out a while (Halliburton reports that it intends to sign a "tolling agreement" with the SEC, which means the SEC will probably delay opening any closets at corporate headquarters until after it has had a chance to investigate all the different "participants" -- i.e. Halliburton subsidiaries, joint ventures and shell companies. But given the magnitude of this case, and what we know about his style from what's turned up in the Libby case and reports about his role in clandestine operations in the Middle East), who knows what might eventually turn up.

Maybe some day Cheney will need "good advice" from his lawyers, too.