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Halliburton, Shell, Other Top Execs Held on Nigerian Bribe Schemes

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Executives of Shell and Halliburton Industries were arrested and held in Nigeria, as part of an investigation into bribe schemes totaling in excess of $600 million. The Nigerian “anti-corruption police,” formally their Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, on November 29, took into custody employees of U.S. Oilfield service group Halliburton, and others. Applicable law stated the detainees could only be held for up to 48 hours; the employees were released just short of that figure. Those arrested included 10 Nigerian and/or relocated Halliburton staff, and one “senior employee” from each of the oil firms, Saipem Contracting, and Technip Offshore Nigeria Ltd. The Halliburton arrests were linked to a bribery case involving Halliburton former unit KBR, although the two disassociated in 2007; Halliburton has claimed no participation in the matters being investigated.

Both Halliburton and KBR were previously investigated by the US Department of Justice regarding these charges in Nigeria, and bribery scandals in other countries. KBR pleaded guilty to having paid $180m in bribes over a ten year period to Nigerian officials to obtain $6b in contracts for the Bonny Island liquefied natural gas project. KBR and Halliburton settled for $579m in the US, but other nations including Nigeria still have matters pending; France and Switzerland are among interested parties.

Former US Vice-president Cheney reportedly is about to face investigation related to this bribery scandal stemming from his years as Halliburton’s chief executive. The Nigerian anti-fraud agency has indicated it will include Cheney in charges on these issues. KBR has already entered a guilty plea. Cheney’s attorney made the  statement, “All this stuff happened well over a decade ago; let bygones be bygones!”

The travel documents of those arrested are being held; the subjects cannot leave the country. Halliburton has provided the Nicaraguan commission with a statement; Peter Robinson, a Shell Oil VP, made himself available for questioning.

Other charges include an admission by Shell to paying $2m to Nigerian subcontractors to circumvent customs, and to provide “an improper advantage” to Shell in connection with the deepwater Bonga Project. Shell separately admitted paying $2 million to Nigerian subcontractors on that project. The Shell Nicaraguan subsidy may have conspired to violate anti-bribery and books and records provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act; the Securities and Exchange Commission said Shell profited some $14m as a result of these payments.

Among those having agreed to comply with findings is Panalpina; Panalpina Welttransport Holding, a Swiss freight company had until 2007 a reputation for tolerance of bribery, and a “culture of corruption.” Panalpina, Shell, and five oil service companies on or about November 4 agreed to pay $236.5m to resolve a US probe of multi-national bribery, this according to The US Justice Department. It is alleged that Panalpina worked with oil and gas companies to illegally move rigs, ships, and equipment; Shell Oil Nigerian employees are thought to have requested Panalpina to provide false invoices to hide bribes. Insiders say that Panalpina used “distinctive packaging” to convey to Nigerian customs official the payloads of bribed shipments. Thus the materials were moved through customs without required paperwork.


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About John Lake

John Lake had a long and successful career in legitimate and musical theater. He moved up into work behind the camera at top motion pictures. He has done a smattering of radio, and television John joined the Blogcritics field of writers owing to a passion for the liberal press, himself speaking out about the political front, and liberal issues. Now the retired Mr. Lake has entered the field of motion picture, television, and video game (now a daily gamer!) critique. His writing is always innovative and immensely readable!
  • Ruvy

    The words “bribe” and “Nigerian” seem to go together hand in glove.

  • So, you chose to ignore former US vice president Dick Cheney’s role, Ruvy! Lobbying and brokering is legalized in the US. US congressmen and senators can be lobbied for one’s own interests. Perhaps, countries like Nigeria and India have not yet developed to such a level. ‘Questions for money’ scam was unearthed in India some 6 to 7 years back. If parliamentarians can be lobbied by money, what’s the use of electing them as representatives of the people. The US has a practice of legalizing a crime instead of curbing it. Poker, prostitution are only two of them.

  • Cannonshop

    Looks to me like they didn’t bribe the right people, or didn’t pay the amount demanded.

  • Ruvy

    Sekhar, you keep ignoring the fact that I’m an Israeli, and a former American who doesn’t really give much of a damn about what the American clowns do – or don’t do.

    The last time the Americans did bribery as a way of doing business was when folks went to Spiro Agnew’s back door with bags of cash. It eventually got him kicked out of the vice-president’s residence. I don’t remember if the guy did hard time or not.

    What I said in comment 1 – that the words “Nigerian” and “bribe” seem to go together – apply also to the political party SHAS here in Israel.

    Having said that, I’d note that Indian friends of mine tell me that compared to India’s corruption, Israelis are a bunch of sainted schoolboys who do almost no wrong. Yet 88% of Israelis view their politicians as corrupt. I’m in that 88%.

  • Ruvy, is it not the case that you are STILL an American or have you finally gone the extra mile and renounced your US citizenship, as I suggested you might consider doing quite some time back?

    As to bribery, I don’t have any Wikileaks type secrets to reveal but I rather think there have been far more recent examples of “bribery as a way of doing business” than Agnew’s time.

  • Ruvy

    Christopher, the day is long past when “civitas Americanus est” is a statement of any meaning.

    BUT, having earned the right to receive Social Security pension payments from the United States, I maintain my citizenship, on the off chance that there will be a United States in 2013 or 2014, when I apply for early retirement. I would rather be paid in silver than in fiat dollars – and who knows? Miracles do happen. I might be.

    But other than that, my connections to America are in memory. Even my family there seems lost. So, I’m an Israeli.

  • zingzing

    how about a bet, ruvy? if there is not a united states in 2013 or 2014, you can pick, i will pay you your social security. just send me your ss statement. on the other hand, if there is a united states in 2013 or 2014, you have to pay your ss to me. from your point of view, this would seem a safe bet for you. if indeed i’m the one taking the risk, i’d think you’d jump at such a proposal.

  • Ruvy

    If there is no United States in 2013 (or 2014), you will not be able to pay my Social Security pension!

    I grew up right near that bridge everyone wants to sell, zing. I know a little bit more about selling bridges than you do.

  • John Lake

    Will be an America in 2014? Yes, buy China and Saudi Arabia will own just about everything of any importance.

  • John Lake

    A curious post at the United Kingdom Guardian seems to suggest there was more to the Nigerian bribe schemes than now meets the eye. There are references to clandestine invasion of the Nigerian government, and to American military weapons being used to back up the schemes. Link to:
    Nigeria spying

  • zingzing

    “If there is no United States in 2013 (or 2014), you will not be able to pay my Social Security pension!”

    obviously, if the place moves, i’ll move there. or i’ll move wherever there is not chaos. so i’ll use whatever currency is legal there. you’ll get your money.

    “I grew up right near that bridge everyone wants to sell, zing. I know a little bit more about selling bridges than you do.”

    i live next to the bridge. when this place falls apart, it’ll be up for grabs. i’ll make sure to muscle anyone else out.

    sounds to me like you are hedging. do you want to make the bet?