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2004-02-17

Halliburton Hires Bush Family Lawyer To Conduct Internal Probe Over Nigeria Bribes

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Halliburton hired James Doty of the law firm Baker Botts to conduct an internal investigation into allegedly corrupt payments the company made in Nigeria in the late 1990s when Vice President Dick Cheney was CEO. We speak with Russell Mokhiber of Corporate Crime reporter about how both the lawyer and the law firm have close ties to the Bush family and administration. [includes transcript]

Halliburton has hired an attorney to conduct an internal investigation into allegedly corrupt payments the company made in Nigeria during a period in the late 1990s–when Vice President Dick Cheney was CEO of the company.

The SEC, the Justice Department, French prosecutors and Nigerian authorities are all investigating whether Halliburton was involved in the payment of 180 million dollars in possible kickbacks to obtain contracts to build a natural gas plant in Nigeria. Cheney was Halliburton’s chief executive at the time and may face prosecution in France on the grounds of complicity in the misuse of corporate assets.

It turns out that both the lawyer and the law firm Halliburton hired to conduct the internal probe have close ties to the Bush family and administration.

The lawyer’s name is James Doty, lead partner in the Washington, D.C. office of Baker Botts.

Doty has a long history with the Bush administration including representing Bush Jr. when he bought the Texas Rangers and acting as general counsel to the Securities and Exchange Commission under Bush Sr.

His law firm Baker Botts is headed up by none other than James Baker. Baker is a lawyer-politician who is a former White House Chief of Staff, Treasury Secretary, Secretary of State and various other things. He is a trusted friend of the Bush family and has been called up before in times of political need. He ran Bush Senior’s presidential campaigns and was President George W Bush’s man in Florida during the recount in 2000.

Halliburton announced earlier this month that it had hired an outside law firm to conduct an internal investigation into the brewing scandal, but the company refused to name the law firm or the lawyer conducting the inquiry.

  • Russell Mokhiber, editor of Corporate Crime Reporter who first broke this story. He joins us on the phone from Washington DC.

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Halliburton had refused at the time to name the law firm or the lawyer conducting the inquiry. Now, the lawyer and the law firm names have been revealed by Russell Mokhiber, editor of "Corporate Crime Reporter," the firm and lawyer, close ties to the Bush family and administration. Russell MOKHIBER joins us on the phone from Washington, D.C. Welcome, Russell.

RUSSELL MOKHIBER: Good morning, Amy.

AMY GOODMAN: It’s good to have you with us. Who is the lawyer and who is he connected to?

RUSSELL MOKHIBER: The lawyer is James Doddy, he is a — the lead Washington partner in the Baker Botts law firm. Baker Botts — the Baker is obviously James Baker, who, as Kevin Phillips points out in his speaking tour around the country, is the lawyer who won Florida for Bush Jr. over Gore in the last election. He’s also the — he was the Secretary of State under Bush Sr. So, it’s well connected Bush family firm. James Doddy is the President — is President Bush’s family lawyer. He represented the President in the purchase of the Texas Rangers. He was also General Counsel under Bush Sr. at the Securities and Exchange Commission, at a time when there was an insider trader investigation — insider trading investigation into Bush Jr., that was the Harken Energy Scandal. An insider trading investigation where the S.E.C. cleared Bush Jr. without interviewing him. James Doddy at the time did recuse — said he recused himself from that investigation. He was also on the short list to replace Harvey Pitt as Chairman of the S.E.C. So, this — while Baker — while Halliburton says that it’s — it’s hired an outside counsel, this is an inside lawyer, very close to the Bush Administration. And raises his track — his track record raises serious questions into whether or not he can conduct an independent investigation of very serious charges of illicit payments overseas and possible violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about exactly what is alleged in Nigeria?

RUSSELL MOKHIBER: There apparently has been — from press reports, and there has been no reporting on this, but from press reports, there apparently has been $180 million payment from a consortium of which Kellogg, Brown & Root, a Halliburton subsidiary was a member. And there is a French judge who has been investigating for a number of months the possibility that these were illegal bribes, and the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Justice Department have both opened investigations into the possibility that these payments violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act is a sweeping law that makes it a crime for any U.S. citizen to bribe any public official anywhere in the world.

AMY GOODMAN: How did you find out the information?

RUSSELL MOKHIBER: We — I do interviews with — every week we do a question-answer format interview with lawyers and prosecutors and so forth. And lawyers who I spoke to are familiar with Foreign Corrupt Practices Act investigation tipped me off to this.

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