February 12, 2009

Halliburton, KBR, to pay record fine

U.S. oil service giant Halliburton and former subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root have settled an international bribery case for $579 million, officials said.

Authorities charged the companies with funneling funds to Nigerian officials through intermediaries in Tokyo and Gibraltar to secure $6 billion worth of construction contracts over a 10-year period, The Washington Post reported Thursday.

KBR pleaded guilty in the case while Halliburton admitted no wrongdoing, the newspaper said. But, Halliburton will pay $559 million of the fine, which is a record for a foreign corruption case.

Court documents say KBR's former Chairman Albert Stanley authorized a payment of $23 million to an intermediary in Gibraltar in June 2002. A portion the funds were to be used as bribes to secure contracts to build natural gas facilities, the newspaper said.

Two months after Stanley released the funds, $1 million was delivered to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. in a suitcase filled with $100 bills. In April 2003, a cash payment of $500,000 was delivered, the documents claimed.

This bribery scheme involved both senior foreign government officials and KBR corporate executives who took actions to insulate themselves from the reach of U.S. law, said Acting Assistant Attorney General Rita Glavin.