Image: Former Vice President Cheney
Joshua Roberts  /  Reuters file
Dick Cheney resigned as Halliburton's CEO in 2000 to run as former President George W. Bush's vice president.
msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 12/15/2010 6:52:12 PM ET 2010-12-15T23:52:12

Nigeria will drop charges against former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney and Halliburton, the oil-services firm he once headed, after the company agreed to pay up to $250 million to settle a bribery case, the U.K.'s Guardian newspaper reported Wednesday.

The charges stem from a case involving millions allegedly paid in bribes to Nigerian officials by Halliburton and other firms to win a contract to build a $6 billion liquefied natural gas plant in Nigeria's oil-rich southern delta.

Nigeria's anti-corruption police, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, said it met officials representing Cheney and Halliburton in London last week, according to the Guardian.

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"There was a plea bargain on the part of the company to pay $250 million as fines in lieu of prosecution," Femi Babafemi, a spokesman for the EFCC, told the newspaper.

Several Nigerian newspapers reported that former President George H.W. Bush and James Baker, former secretary of state, took part in the negotiations with Nigerian officials, the Guardian said.

The settlement is expected to be approved by Nigeria's attorney general, Mohammed Adoke, Babafemi said, according to the Guardian. "I can tell you authoritatively that an agreement has been reached."

Houston-based engineering firm KBR, a former Halliburton unit, pleaded guilty last year to U.S. charges that it paid $180 million in bribes between 1994 and 2004 to Nigerian officials to secure $6 billion in contracts for the Bonny Island liquefied natural gas project in the Niger Delta.

KBR and Halliburton reached a $579 million settlement in the United States. But Nigeria, France and Switzerland have conducted their own investigations into the case.

The EFCC last week charged Halliburton Chief Executive David Lesar, Cheney, and two other executives. It also filed charges against Halliburton as a company, which was headed by Cheney during the 1990s, and four associated businesses.

A lawyer for Cheney, who was U.S. vice president from 2001 to 2009, did not comment on whether a settlement was under discussion, but said the charges were baseless.

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Halliburton split from KBR in 2007. It has said that its current operations in Nigeria — raided by the EFCC last month — were not involved in the Bonny project and that there is no legal basis for the charges.

Those charged in Nigeria included KBR Chief Executive Officer William Utt and former KBR CEO Albert "Jack" Stanley, who worked under Cheney when he headed Halliburton and pleaded guilty in 2008 to U.S. charges related to the case.

KBR said Utt had only joined the firm in February 2006 and that the rest of its executive team was appointed thereafter. It has accused Nigeria of "wildly and wrongly asserting blame."

The TSKJ consortium that built the Bonny plant was also charged by the EFCC.

As well as KBR, the consortium included France's Technip SA Italy's Snamprogetti — a unit of Italian oilfield services company Saipem whose parent company is Eni — and Japan's JGC Corp.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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