Nigeria drops charges against Dick Cheney after Halliburton reportedly pays $250 million; James Giffen is sad, though not bitter; an Iraqi Oil for Food prosecution … in Scotland; International Anti-Corruption Day is “marred”; and another voice joins “the FCPA simply means what the enforcement agencies say it means” chorus … it’s all here in the Friday Roundup.
Charges Against Cheney in Nigeria Dropped
On December 7th, Nigerian authorities apparently filed criminal charges against Dick Cheney, and others, in connection with the Bonny Island bribery scheme. As discussed in this prior post, Cheney was CEO of Halliburton from 1995 until 2000. In February 2009, Halliburton, Kellogg Brown & Root LLC, and KBR Inc. agreed to pay $579 million in combined DOJ/SEC FCPA enforcement action to resolve charges related to Bonny Island. According to the DOJ, the improper conduct took place between 1994 and 2004. The case remains the largest ever FCPA enforcement action against a U.S. company.
Farida Mzamber Waziri, the executive chairwomen of Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission stated, “Dick Cheney was head of Halliburton” “There’s no way such amount of money would’ve been moved to bribe Nigeria without his approval and without his knowledge, this is what we’re saying.” (See here for a video).
In a swift conclusion to the matter, it is been reported (see here among other places) that Nigeria has dropped charges against Cheney after his former employer, Halliburton, agreed to pay a $250 million fine. According to the report, the sum consists of $120 million in penalties and the repatriation of $130 million.
According to this report in the U.K. Telegraph, former U.S. President George H.W. Bush and former Secretary of State James Baker helped in the negotiations.
A Halliburton spokesman is quoted as saying “we have no comment to make on this.”
Sad, But Not Bitter
Giffen is sad, though not bitter about what he terms the DOJ’s “selective” prosecution of him and he asks “in whose interest was the investigation in the first place.” Given Giffen’s “public authority” defense, much of the case focused on classified documents. Not even Giffen’s lawyer, William Schwartz (here) had access to many of the documents – one person did and that was Judge William Pauley (S.D.N.Y.) “who made his feelings known.” (see here).
Glasgow, Scotland based engineering firm Wehr Group plc (here) recently pleaded guilty to two charges of breaching UN sanctions in connection with a number of UN sanctioned Iraqi Oil for Food contracts awarded between 2000 and 2002. As noted in the company’s release (here), “following the guilty plea, Weir has been subject to a confiscation order in the sum of £13,945,962. In addition it has been fined £3 million.” For more see here.
International Anti-Corruption Day “Marred”
Raymond Baker (here), the Director of Global Financial Integrity, says here that “this year’s International Anti-Corruption Day [was] marred by a U.S. Chamber of Commerce attempt to weaken the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.” In November, the Chamber released a paper (here) authored by Andrew Weissman and Alixandra Smith titled “Restoring Balance – Proposed Amendments to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.”
According to Baker, “the short answer” to various issues raised by the current era of FCPA enforcement is simple: “don’t bribe anyone, whether she/he is a public official, a private citizen, or someone in between.”
Gee, thanks for that guidance, problem solved!
The FCPA’s Big Lesson
Richard Cassin, creator of the FCPA Blog and a pioneer of the FCPA’s blogosphere, hit the ball out of the park with this recent column for Ethisphere.
Among other things, Cassin writes as follows: “I know there’s practically no FCPA-related case law, no precedent to follow, no stare decisis to light the way. So the FCPA is pretty much what the enforcement agencies say it is. And that’s what’s so very different and difficult about it. It’s what I call the FCPA’s Big Lesson.”
A good weekend to all.