UPDATED: Offer now reported by Nigerian official as $250m after meeting with Cheney and Halliburton reps over the weekend...
We recently detailed the "very awkward position", as Constitutional Law professor Jonathan Turley described it, that the U.S. could find itself in in regard to Nigeria's indictment of Dick Cheney on bribery charges last week, considering the long-standing extradition treaty the U.S. holds with Nigeria. The allegations against Cheney include some $180 million in bribes said to have been paid in exchange for some $6 billion in contracts during his tenure as CEO of Halliburton.
So how might the U.S. government avoid that "very awkward position"? It appears Halliburton may be willing to pay some $500 million to Nigeria to help them do just that, according to the Global Post...
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UPDATE: One point worth noting here is that we have recently learned, thanks to the diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks and their media partners, that the U.S. Government has proven more than willing to step up to the plate to protect the Bush Administration from prosecution on charges related to torturing of citizens in a number of countries. The Bush Administration itself brought diplomatic pressure to stop investigations into CIA torture in Germany, according to information in those leaked cables, and even the Obama Administration stepped up to protect Bush officials from prosecution in Spain.
Where we now know they've been willing to do so in the past, thanks to the release of those cables, it seems perfectly reasonable to speculate that the Obama Administration would be willing, even eager, to apply similar pressure to Nigeria here in order to protect Cheney and to help avoid the "very awkward situation" the U.S. would find itself in with the issuance of an Interpol "red notice" requiring us to help "find" and then extradite the indicted Cheney to Nigeria.
To that end, no doubt the U.S. has much leverage, economic and otherwise, to bring to bear over a country like Nigeria to help "encourage" them to accept such a settlement of a half a billion dollars from Halliburton. Whether such settlements are legal under Nigerian law (as someone quoted in the linked article suggests they are not) is a different question, but one that I'd not be surprised to see ignored so that this matter can go away quickly. Hoping there's someone out there whose willing to leak evidence of such diplomatic pressure when and if it is brought to bear. Which, of course, is just another reason why we need media organizations like WikiLeaks!
UPDATE 12/14/10: The reported $500 million settlement is now being reported as $250 million, according to a spokesperson from Nigeria's Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), even as Halliburton maintains "there is no legal basis for the charges." The agreement would need to be ratified by the government, he says, with a decision on the deal expected by the end of the week. The statement comes after "Representatives for Cheney and Halliburton met with Nigerian officials in London over the weekend."