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Nigeria Orders Investigation of Halliburton Subsidiary - 2004-02-07

Nigeria has ordered an investigation into bribery allegations against a subsidiary of the U.S.-based Halliburton company.

The government in Abuja says it is launching its own investigation into claims that the Halliburton subsidiary, Kellogg, Brown and Root, or KBR , bribed Nigerian officials to secure a natural gas contract during the late 1990s.

KBR is accused of paying $180 million in bribes to former Nigerian officials to ensure that it would be awarded work in a $4 billion project.

Nigerian presidential spokeswoman Remi Oyo says the probe is important because Nigeria wants to stamp out this type of activity.

The investigation comes as Nigeria has launched several other high-profile inquiries into corruption cases. These probes are being led by the government's Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, which is trying to reverse Nigeria's position as one of the world's most corrupt countries.

Nigeria's inquiry into the Halliburton subsidiary follows an announcement by the U.S. Justice Department that it is also looking into the matter. Vice President Dick Cheney was chairman of Halliburton during the second half of the 1990s, when the gas plant was being built in Nigeria.

A Halliburton spokeswoman says the company is cooperating with the U.S. probe. She also says she does not have any reason to believe company officials violated U.S. laws, which prohibit businesses and individuals from bribing foreign officials.

Halliburton is also facing scrutiny over allegations it overcharged the U.S. government for services supplied in the Middle East as part of operations in Iraq.