Cheney Target of Criminal Investigation
by David Sirota
Though neglected by major media in the United States, international news sources report that French law enforcement authorities have made Vice President Dick Cheney the target of a criminal investigation for his role in a massive bribery scandal during his time as CEO of Halliburton. Le Figaro, one of France's biggest (and most conservative) newspapers, reports "an investigative judge is looking into allegations of corruption during construction of a natural gas complex in Nigeria by Halliburton and" a French oil company. According to a gas and oil trade publication (picked up by the international AP newswire on October 11, 2003) the judge is "looking into who may have benefited from nearly $200 million in potentially illegal commissions allegedly handed out from 1990 to 2002." In May, Halliburton admitted that, under Cheney's stewardship, it paid "$2.4 million in bribes to Nigerian officials to get favorable tax treatment." Halliburton now says it is cooperating with a simultaneous review by the Security and Exchange Commission.
The London Financial Times reports the investigation specifically focuses on the criminal charges of "misuse of corporate funds" and "corruption of foreign public agents." The Sydney Australia Morning Herald reports the investigative judge is specifically targeting Cheney for his "alleged complicity in the abuse of corporate assets."
Though the investigation is being spearheaded by French law enforcement, the UK Guardian notes, it would be prosecuted under international laws agreed to by the United States in a 35-nation treaty signed in 1997, meaning the consequences could be very real. The treaty, "under the auspices of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, aims to fight corporate attempts to buy the favors of public authorities abroad." Not coincidentally, the London Financial Times points out that the Bush Administration is using similar agreements to aggressively "seek the extradition and pressing claims against senior French finance industry executives connected with the Credit Lyonnais purchase of Executive Life, the failed Californian insurer."