LAGOS, Nigeria - Nigeria's anticorruption agency charged former Vice President Dick Cheney on Tuesday over an alleged bribery scheme involving Halliburton Co. during the time he was the oil-services firm's top official, a spokesman said.
The charges stem from a case involving as much as $180 million allegedly paid in bribes to Nigerian officials, said Femi Babafemi, a spokesman for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
Halliburton and other firms allegedly paid the bribes to win a contract to build a $6 billion liquefied natural-gas plant in Nigeria's oil-rich southern delta, he said.
Terrence O'Donnell, a lawyer for Cheney, said in a statement that the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission had "investigated that joint venture extensively and found no suggestion of any impropriety" by Cheney.
"Any suggestion of misconduct on his part, made now, years later, is entirely baseless," O'Donnell said.
The Halliburton case involves its former subsidiary KBR Inc., a major engineering and construction-services firm based in Houston. In February 2009, KBR pleaded guilty in U.S. federal court to authorizing and paying bribes from 1995 to 2004 for the plant contracts in Nigeria.
KBR, which split from Halliburton in 2007, agreed to pay more than $400 million in fines in the plea deal.
Halliburton spokeswoman Tara Mullee Agard said the company had not seen the new charges but insisted that Halliburton had nothing to do with the project.
Babafemi, the Nigerian agency spokesman, said that Halliburton, its Nigerian subsidiary, Halliburton CEO David J. Lesar, former KBR chief executive officer Albert "Jack" Stanley, and current KBR chief executive officer William Utt all faced similar charges in the case. Each charge in the 16-count indictment carries up to three years in prison, Babafemi said.
Heather L. Browne, a KBR spokeswoman, said Utt joined the firm in 2006, two years after prosecutors say the bribery case concluded.
"The actions of the Nigerian government suggest that its officials are wildly and wrongly asserting blame in this matter," Browne said in a statement.
Stanley, the former CEO, pleaded guilty in 2008 to federal bribery charges and is due to be sentenced Jan. 19.
Nigeria, a major oil supplier to the United States, has long been considered by analysts and watchdog groups to have one of the world's most corrupt governments.