Dick Cheney- Corporate Criminal


Contracts for Halliburton Again?

Posted to the web May 4, 2005


The ambivalence in certain actions of the Obasanjo Administration may undermine the current campaign against corruption. In one breadth, government officials talk of a new resolve to root out corruption, and in another, they take actions that only leave a huge question on their sincerity.

In our calculation, there is no greater proof of such ambiguity than the recent decision by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and its joint venture partner, ChevronTexaco, to award a $1.7 billion contract to KBR, a subsidiary of Halliburton of the United States. The contract is for the engineering, procurement and construction of gas-to-liquid (GTL) plant in Escravos.

This contract hoists a banner that eloquently proclaims that all sorts of impunity are possible here even in the face of a government that seeks to be judged on its drive against graft. To understand the import of this contract and its potential to damage the foundation of the ethical order, it is necessary to recap Halliburton's impunity and disregard for Nigeria.

Shortly after the end of the Abacha Administration, it was reported that KBR and its partners in the TSKJ Consortium had bribed Nigerian government officials to secure a contract to build the first two trains in the liquefied natural gas plant in Bonny. The matter is subject to litigation in a French court at the moment. Later it was revealed that Halliburton had bribed tax officials to have them under-value its obligations. The company has owned up to the malfeasance. Surprisingly, no official of the company has been prosecuted in Nigeria. This aside, Halliburton was found to have aided the theft of radioactive materials used in oil drilling brought into Nigeria. The material was intercepted in one of the countries of the European Union (EU) and has been brought back to Nigeria.

Irked by the company's disrespect of Nigeria, the House of Representatives passed a motion blacklisting Halliburton or any of its subsidiaries from future contracts in Nigeria. The overwhelming sentiment was that regardless of the company's competence, it has no right to disrespect Nigeria's laws and engage in practices that are not condoned even in its country of origin.

Hopes that the government would use the Halliburton precedent to call multinationals to order were dashed when KBR was awarded another contract. To make matters worse, KBR is said to have produced a letter from the presidency reportedly clearing it to undertake business in Nigeria. This is against the subsisting ban by the House of Representatives.

This matter raises a lot of questions. Who issued the attestation for KBR at the presidency? Even if there was any reason to award a new contract to KBR, it should not have been done in so cavalier a manner and as if to spite parliament.

Up till this point, there is nothing to show that Halliburton has turned a new leaf. The reason while it has been indicted in the US, Iraq and several other countries, where it does business still exist here. We can understand that government officials for some reasons have refused to take action on the company. But it is beyond comprehension that the same company will be rewarded with a new contract, barely six months after it was blacklisted.

In this light, we support the action of the House of Representatives, especially the move by its public petitions committee to hold a hearing on the contract. We commend the efforts of this committee in seeking to bring Halliburton to justice, and wonder why the committee on gas and the anti corruption committees of the House and Senate have kept quiet so far.

It is wrong to think that corruption exists only in the public sector. Far from that, multinational corporations have been found to prefer to bribe public officials to gain advantage over their rivals or to undervalue their tax and social obligations. Halliburton has been found guilty of both and must be heavily sanctioned.

We call on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate the origin of that letter on whose strength KBR won the contract. Regardless of the company's competence, we call for a suspension of this contract until these actions are taken.

Post a Comment