HSBC bank scandal, Dick Cheney and corruption

This video from the USA is called Cheney Charged With Bribery, Criminal Conspiracy. It says about itself:

2 December 2010

Nigerian officials said Thursday they will charge former US vice president Dick Cheney over a massive bribery scandal related to his time at the helm of oil services giant Halliburton.

Halliburton unit KBR pleaded guilty last year in the US to bribing Nigerian officials to the tune of 180 million dollars in return for six billion dollars worth of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) contracts in the oil hub Bonny Island.

Halliburton denied involvement in the offences dating back to 1995-2005, but a top company official and other staff were summoned by Nigeria’s anti-graft agency following raids last week on company offices in Lagos.

Prosecutor Godwin Obla said joint charges would be filed by Tuesday at a high court in the capital Abuja against Cheney, the former and current leadership of Halliburton, and the consortium they partnered with.

“As the CEO of Halliburton, he has the responsibility for acts that occurred during that period,” Obla told AFP, adding that Cheney would face conspiracy charges and an arrest warrent from Interpol would be sought.

A spokesman from the anti-graft agency, Femi Babafemi, confirmed the imminent charges, which follow an investigation into the construction of the LNG plant in southern Nigeria.

Companies in the TSKJ consortium involved in the plant included France’s Technip, Snamprogetti (formerly a subsidiary of a company owned by Italy’s Eni), Kellogg Brown and Root (KBR), and Japan’s JGC.

KBR is a former subsidiary of Halliburton, where Cheney served as CEO before becoming vice president under George W. Bush following elections in 2000.

US authorities said last year that Halliburton and KBR had agreed to pay 177 million dollars to settle charges from the Securities and Exchange Commission in the United States.

KBR agreed to pay a further 402 million dollars to settle criminal charges brought by the US Justice Department.

In October, a Nigerian court charged a personal aide to ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo in a related probe, and earlier this week, Nigeria’s anti-corruption authorities summoned a top local official from Halliburton.

Authorities also raided Halliburton’s office in Lagos last week and detained 10 people — eight Nigerians and two expatriates — who have since been released, as investigations continue.

Officials seized documents during the raid.

Nigeria is one of the world’s largest oil producers, but corruption remains deeply entrenched. Non-governmental organisations consistently rank the country as one of the world’s most corrupt.

Babafemi’s agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, was established to probe corruption allegations and has carried out a series of high-profile prosecutions.

Cheney, 69, one of most powerful and controversial US vice presidents, who was a driving force behind Bush’s “war on terror,” has a long history of heart trouble and was last operated on in August.

By Solomon Hughes in Britain:

Bribes and prejudice

Friday 20th February 2015

Contrary to popular belief, the best place to start looking for corrupt crony capitalism is not the developing world but London, says Solomon Hughes

Ten years ago I broke a story in Britain about how Halliburton — the firm formerly run by US vice-president Dick Cheney — was funnelling millions in bribe money for African politicians through an office on West Green Road, a shabby street in Tottenham, north London.

Halliburton led a consortium of companies that wanted to win contracts building a liquid natural gas plant on Bonny Island in Nigeria.

Halliburton and co were willing to spend millions bribing Nigerian politicians to win the work.

Its agent for the bribes was a lawyer called Jeffrey Tesler who worked from a dusty storefront office next to a north London newsagent.

The Halliburton consortium used Tesler to pay $182 million of bribes to win the deal up to 2003.

It was an interesting story because it showed Cheney had run a major corporation involved in corruption.

It showed that the vice-president who went on to drive the Iraq war and US torture programmes was always close to crime.

When the case broke, Nigeria actually indicted Cheney over the bribes, but dropped its attempt to prosecute him when Halliburton paid a multimillion-dollar settlement.

I found out about it because a French judge, Renaud van Ruymbeke, was investigating the case — one of the firms in the consortium was French.

Halliburton used its British subsidiary to run the scheme and the bribes went through a British lawyer.

The British government actually subsidised Halliburton on the Bonny Island scheme by offering “export credit” insurance as an “export promotion.”

But British authorities did little to break the corruption.

Peter Mandelson, who was minister in charge of export promotion, had opposed rules which said firms backed by government “export credits” must reveal the names of their agents as an anti-bribery measure.

It was blindingly obvious that “agents” were used by British firms to bribe developing world politicians, but Mandelson did not want to cause companies any inconvenience.

Tesler was finally extradited from Britain to the US, where he was tried and imprisoned in 2012. Even when the scandal was exposed, Britain left it up to another country to prosecute.

The reason I am returning to the story is because the recently leaked HSBC files reveal the bent bank’s Swiss branch held Tesler’s accounts.

The bribe money was shifted through HSBC Switzerland. The same bank also held the accounts for the companies that were used to transfer the bribes and the Nigerian politicians who took the bribes.

Not only that, but HSBC kept holding accounts for Tesler and his family years later.

HSBC could have known all about Tesler’s involvement with the bribe scandal in 2004 by simply reading my original story in the Independent. But it kept his accounts open until 2007 and beyond.

Tesler paid some of the bribes in cash.

In one case a million dollars was left in a pilot’s briefcase in a Lagos hotel. Another time a car with half a million dollars was left outside another hotel.

How Tesler got such huge sums of untraceable cash was a bit of a mystery — one that now seems to be solved.

HSBC Switzerland happily handed out millions of dollars in notes without question. The bank was, quite simply, involved in organised crime on a massive scale.

So a future vice-president runs the US firm that runs a multimillion-dollar bribe scheme.

The bribe money runs through a bank run by a future British trade minister. Sometimes people talk about “crony capitalism” and “endemic corruption” and sleazy politics when they talk about Nigeria.

But if you want to find crony corrupt capitalism, the best place to start is London.

HSBC should face UK criminal charges, says former public prosecutor. Lord Ken Macdonald QC says HMRC’s decision not to prosecute bank over Swiss revelations was ‘seriously legally flawed’: here.

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