Oilfield services company Halliburton is in negotiations with the Nigerian government to keep its former CEO, Dick Cheney, out of prison, according to a news report.
Sources inside Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission told GlobalPost this week that a settlement keeping the charges against Cheney out of court could cost as much as $500 million.
Nigeria filed charges against Cheney this week in an investigation of alleged bribery estimated at $180 million. Prosecutors named both Halliburton and KBR in the charges, as well as three European oil and engineering companies — Technip SA, EniSpa, and Saipem Construction.
The charges allege that engineering contractor KBR, until 2007 a subsidiary of Halliburton, was among companies that paid bribes to secure a $6 billion contract for a natural gas plant. KBR pleaded guilty to the same bribes in a US court in 2009, and agreed to pay a $382 million fine. The Nigerian charges appear to stem from the US case — though, in that trial, Cheney was never directly charged.
It’s not clear from the GlobalPost report if the $500 million figure refers to the amount Halliburton will have to pay, or whether that amount would cover all the companies that have been charged.
Further complicating the issue is that the negotiations appear to be an out-of-court settlement, because Nigerian law doesn’t recognize plea bargaining.
The idea that an out-of-court settlement could be used in a criminal case angered anti-corruption activist Adetokunbo Mumuni, who told GlobalPost, “There cannot be an out of court settlement. In a purely criminal matter like this, the full letters of the law should apply. Whoever is involved should be taken through the entire process to determine their guilt or not.”
The legal vagueness surrounding the reported negotiations will likely fuel accusations that Halliburton and the other accused companies are attempting to bribe their way out of a bribery prosecution.
But the willingness of Nigerian officials to quote a dollar figure in the midst of negotiations could also fuel speculation that the Nigerian charges are an attempt to shake down the companies for cash.
“The issue should not be so much about the former US vice president, it should be to what extent the law will be properly applied,” Mumuni told GlobalPost.
Iran and US trade barbs after drone incident and ahead of new sanctions
The United States on Monday was due to tighten sanctions on Iran as the two countries traded barbs in a tense standoff sparked by Washington's withdrawal from a nuclear deal.
Both nations say they want to avoid going to war, but tensions have spiralled as a series of incidents, including attacks on tankers and the shooting down of a US drone by Iran in the Gulf, raised fears of an unintended slide towards conflict.
On Sunday, Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said a US-made MQ9 Reaper "spy drone" -- also widely used for carrying out military strikes -- had encroached his country's airspace on May 26.
John Oliver warns Trump didn’t have an ‘Ebenezer Scrooge moment’ deciding to be ‘good’ — he’s still Trump
The best thing you can say about Donald Trump is that he "maybe hasn't eaten a dolphin before," John Oliver joked on his Sunday episode of "Last Week Tonight."
Oliver warned people that while Trump had a "change of heart" about Iran it was only about Iran. "He didn't have an Ebenezer Scrooge moment, threw open a window and yelled, 'I'm going to be good from now on!'" the host explained. "No, he just didn't bomb some people."
As Fox News explained, the drown that Iran shot down was not simply one from Amazon. Oliver said it wasn't like Trump said, "Alexa, send a drone to surveil Iran." According to Fox's genius analysis, those drones cost actual money.
Donald Trump’s biggest regret is choosing Jeff Sessions as his attorney general
In an interview that aired on Sunday, President Donald Trump told "Meet the Press" that his biggest regret is choosing Jeff Sessions to be his attorney general.
"If you could have one do-over as president, what would it be?" NBC host Chuck Todd asked Trump during their interview.
This article first appeared at Salon.com.After the president replied that his do over would involve "personnel," he elaborated that "I would say if I had one do over, it would be, I would not have appointed Jeff Sessions to be attorney general." When Todd asked Trump to clarify if he thought appointing Sessions was his "worst mistake," the president reiterated "yeah, that was the biggest mistake." He added that Sessions is "very talented" but was cut off by a new line of questioning from Todd before he could elaborate.