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Nigeria summons Shell, Halliburton execs over graft

Tue Nov 30, 2010 7:33am EST

* Shell invite relates to $240 million case settled in U.S.

* Halliburton staff, MD called in after arrests last week

ABUJA, Nov 30 (Reuters) – Nigeria’s anti-corruption police said on Tuesday they wanted to interview the country heads of Shell (RDSa.L) and U.S. oil services firm Halliburton (HAL.N) as part of investigations into two separate bribery cases.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) briefly detained 10 Halliburton staff for questioning last week in relation to a $180 million bribery case involving the U.S. firm’s former unit KBR (KBR.N). [ID:nLDE6AQ0BH]

The companies split in 2007 and Halliburton has said it is not connected with the case. The Shell executive had been invited for questioning in relation to a separate $240 million case settled by the oil major and the Swiss logistics firm Panalpina (PWTN.S) in the United States earlier this month, officials said. [ID:nN0494954]

“We have invited the MDs (managing directors) of Shell and Halliburton as part of investigations in two separate bribery cases,” EFCC spokesman Femi Babafemi said.

“The $240 million Shell bribery issue has been dealt with in the U.S. and we are looking at the Nigeria end of things.”

Last month, the U.S. government said a Panalpina unit agreed to plead guilty in its case, admitting to paying at least $27 million in bribes to officials in at least seven countries including Nigeria, Brazil and Russia between 2002 and 2007 on behalf of its oil and gas industry clients.

Shell’s Nigerian unit agreed to settle charges and pay $30 million in criminal penalties, the Justice Department said.

“We will cooperate fully with the (Nigerian) authorities in any investigation that they may undertake but we will not comment on specifics,” a Shell spokesman in Nigeria said.

The EFCC detained 10 Nigerian and expatriate Halliburton staff for questioning last week as well as one senior employee each from oil firms Saipem Contracting Nigeria Ltd (SPMI.MI) and Technip Offshore Nigeria Ltd (TECF.PA).

Houston-based engineering firm KBR pleaded guilty last year to U.S. charges that it paid $180 million in bribes between 1994 and 2004 to Nigerian officials to secure $6 billion in contracts for the Bonny Island liquefied natural gas (LNG) project.

KBR and Halliburton reached a $579 million settlement in the United States but Nigeria, France and Switzerland have conducted their own investigations into the case.

Halliburton said it was not involved in the LNG development, its employees have never participated in any work on the project and the EFCC raid last week had no legal basis.

It said its offices were ransacked and personnel assaulted in the raid in what it said was “an affront against justice”.

(Reporting by Joe Brock; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)


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