Monday, December 22, 2003

French try to get at the VP

A French prosecutor is trying to get at Dick Cheney:

A French prosecutor is examining whether to prosecute Vice President Dick Cheney over suspected complicity in the abuse of corporate assets dating from the time he was head of the services company Halliburton, the newspaper Le Figaro said during the weekend.

Such a prosecution would be bound to exacerbate diplomatic strains between the United States and France over Paris' action to block a U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

The case stems from a contract by a consortium including the American company Kellogg, Brown & Root (KBR), a Halliburton subsidiary, and a French company, Technip, to supply a gas complex to Nigeria.

A Paris magistrate has been investigating complaints that $180 million was paid in secret commissions from the late 1990s to 2002 from funds established by the consortium, the report said.

Mr. Cheney was Halliburton's chief executive from 1995 to 2000.

In a letter to the attorney general's department, magistrate Reynaud van Ruymbeke ruled out directly prosecuting Mr. Cheney on a charge of bribing foreign officials, Le Figaro said.

But the official did not exclude prosecution on the grounds of complicity in the misuse of corporate assets, it added.


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