US company charged on Nigerian corruption case

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Employees of Halliburton Inc., a United States energy services group, after an intensive investigation have been charged with acts of bribing Nigerian officials.

The investigation stems from the construction of a giant liquefied natural gas plant on the Nigerian coast near Port Harcourt that began in 1996 and received a boost last year when former Halliburton Inc. executive, Albert J. Stanley pleaded guilty to orchestrating $180 million in bribes to senior Nigerian officials.

Halliburton Inc., have been fund guilty and have agreed to pay $559 million to settle the charges. But Nigerians are calling for more. They want the officials who collect these bribes to pay in the same manner the United States punishes companies and officials who give bribes.

The Nigerian economic crime watchdog team known as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC has been monitoring the case closely and have claimed to be in communication with the department responsible for it, saying that the commission would issue a statement on its findings at the appropriate time.

This heavy fine on bribery and corruption handed Halliburton Inc follows the Baker Hughes Inc. fine of $44 million last year in relation to charges that it paid bribes in Kazakhstan. Also, German consortium, Siemens had to pay $800 million (£564 million) to settle US allegations regarding payments to government officials in several countries to win infrastructure contracts.

Lawyers and observers who follow cases under the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act say the Siemens and Halliburton payments mark a new era in anti-bribery enforcement. Under federal law, it is illegal for U.S. companies to pay bribes to win foreign business.

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