Halliburton admits it paid Nigerian bribe
Fri May 9, 1:51 PM ET Add Top Stories - AFP to My Yahoo!
WASHINGTON (AFP) - Oil services giant Halliburton, already under fire over accusations that its White house ties helped win a major Iraqi oil contract, has admitted that a subsidiary paid a multi-million dollar bribe to a Nigerian tax official.
Halliburton, once run by Vice President Richard Cheney, revealed the illicit payments, worth 2.4 million dollars, in a filing Thursday with the Securities and Exchange Commission (news - web sites) (SEC).
“The payments were made to obtain favorable tax treatment and clearly violated our code of business conduct and our internal control procedures,” Halliburton said.
Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown and Root (KBR), which paid the bribe, has been in the political spotlight since it was awarded a no-bid US government oil contract in Iraq (news - web sites) in March.
KBR is building a liquefied natural gas plant and an offshore oil and gas terminal in Nigeria.
Halliburton told the SEC the bribe was discovered during an audit of KBR’s Nigerian office.
The payments were made in 2001 and 2002, Halliburton spokeswoman Zelma Branch told AFP’s business ethics news service, AFX Global Ethics Monitor.
Cheney led the company as chief executive from 1995 until August 2000, when he became President George W. Bush (news - web sites)'s running mate.
“Based on the findings of the investigation we have terminated several employees,” Halliburton said in the filing, adding that none of its senior officers was involved in the bribe.
“We are cooperating with the SEC in its review of the matter,” Halliburton said.
“We plan to take further action to ensure that our foreign subsidiary pays all taxes owed in Nigeria, which may be as much as an additional five million dollars, which has been fully accrued.”
Halliburton said its code of business conduct and internal control procedures were “essential” to the way it ran its business.
The group is already facing questions over its business in Iraq and its accounting practices.
On Tuesday, a US lawmaker said the military had revealed for the first time that KBR had a contract encompassing the operation of Iraqi oil fields.
Previously, the US Army Corps of Engineers had described the contract given to Halliburton as involving oil well firefighting.
But in a May 2 letter replying to questions from Henry Waxman, a Democrat, the army said the contract also included “operation of facilities and distribution of products.”
Waxman, the top-ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives’ committee on government reform, asked for an explanation.
“These new disclosures are significant and they seem at odds with the administration’s repeated assurances that the Iraqi oil belongs to the Iraqi people,” Waxman said.
The Army Corps of Engineers had said it decided to forgo competitive bidding on the first contract because of time constraints.
But in a May 2 letter responding to questions from Waxman, military programs chief Lieutenant General Robert Flowers said the military assigned the work to KBR’s services division in November 2002, under a pre-existing contract for the firm to provide logistical support to the US Army worldwide.
Waxman has also criticized Halliburton for dealings with countries such as Iran, Iraq and Libya, cited by Washington as state sponsors of terrorism or members of the so-called “axis of evil”.
kinda makes ya wonder huh?