UK probes Halliburton’s "Nigeria contracts scam"

  • Wednesday, August 09, 2006 - By Sun Publishing
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Britain's Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has launched investigation into KBR, the Britain-based unit of United States oil services giant Halliburton, over the company's role in an alleged plot to pay bribes to win billions of dollars worth of contracts at a Nigerian oil plant.

The probe according to Tuesday’s edition of the Financial Times adds to investigations already under way in the United States, France and Nigeria into whether a consortium in which KBR had a 25 percent stake made payments to secure construction work.

The allegations relate to activities that started in 1995 or earlier, and for part of the period under investigation, United States Vice-President Dick Cheney headed Halliburton.

During 2005, KBR and its affiliates had revenue of approximately $6.6 billion from government contracts.

According to Reuters, the SFO declined to confirm it was investigating KBR but said in an email that it "is investigating allegations of illegal payments made to secure contracts in Nigeria. Searches were carried out in conjunction with City of London Police on 20 July, 2006. The investigation continues."

Halliburton did not confirm the latest UK raids but said, in reference to the Nigerian consortium issue generally, that it was cooperating with various investigative agencies and was committed to getting a resolution to the issues. "As this is an ongoing situation, it would not be appropriate to comment further at this time," company spokeswoman Melissa Norcross said in an email, Reuters added.

Halliburton said in a regulatory filing in March it had reason to believe that payments may have been made to Nigerian officials in relation to work on a Liquefied Natural Gas Terminal in Nigeria. Halliburton said potential consequences of a criminal indictment arising out of these matters could include it being barred from U.S. government contracts.

The allegations came to the fore three years ago, when a former executive at the consortium working on the Nigerian gas plant told a French judge that it had run a slush fund to win contracts since the mid-1990s.
KBR owns a quarter of that consortium. British joint venture MW Kellogg own 55 percent of it, while energy giants Royal Dutch/Shell, Total and Eni and the Nigerian government are also investors in the plant.
According to the Financial Times, more than 12 billion dollars has been invested into the plant, which cools natural gas into liquefied form so that it can be shipped.

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