Nigerian President Orders Probe of Bribery Charges

Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo has ordered an investigation of an alleged bribe involving a subsidiary of Halliburton. The investigation centers around allegations that US $2.4 million was paid by a subsidiary of Halliburton to an official of a Nigerian local tax authority, to help the firm evade tax payments to the federal republic of Nigeria. The investigation was launched as part of a wider anti-corruption drive by recently re-elected President Obasanjo.

Last month Halliburton revealed to the US Securities and Exchange Commission that it may owe up to $5 million in taxes to Nigeria. The company also disclosed that it paid $2.4 million to an entity owned by a Nigerian national in order to get favorable tax treatment.

The company, which was once run by current US vice president Dick Cheney, said the payment was a clear breach of its code of conduct and internal control procedures. It stressed that no senior officers were involved and that a number of employees involved in the payment had been fired. The company says it is cooperating with the SEC in its review of the situation.