...this blog kills fascists...

Wednesday, July 21, 2004


The other day, we saw reports of Sen. Frank Lautenberg's office having "passed to the Treasury Department some documents that had been sent by NIOC's British arm, Kala, to Halliburton's subsidiary in 1997 and 1998 seeking bids for oil services work in Iran." A story in today's LA Times goes into a little more detail:

Lautenberg's office distributed copies of four letters from 1997 sent from a London arm of the Iranian state oil company to Halliburton Products and Services in Dubai.

The four letters, all requests for goods and services from the Halliburton subsidiary, included handwritten notations to specific individuals. Lautenberg's staff questioned whether the individuals worked for the foreign subsidiary or for a U.S. subsidiary, in violation of the sanctions.

Halliburton confirmed the authenticity of the documents, but said that two of the individuals were British citizens who had never worked for any U.S. Halliburton subsidiary.

The other two handwritten notations did not list first names of the individuals, and Halliburton said it was unable to locate records for them.

"These documents do not suggest that any violation of the applicable regulations occurred," Halliburton spokeswoman Wendy Hall said in a statement.

Words can be parsed, accusations made and deflected. Halliburton's spokespeople can spin, but the fact is that Halliburton, first and foremost an American company, used its foreign arms to skirt laws totally applicable to them. That these activities occurred under Cheney's leadership of the company is in little doubt as well. Deciding that the laws of the United States were getting in the way of free and unobstructed profiteering, Halliburton went to great lengths to technically adhere, while willfully and morally understanding they were...let's say, "bypassing" the rule of law. As Bloomberg reported:

Cheney's spokesman, Kevin Kellems, said earlier this month that Cheney, before becoming vice president, usually opposed economic sanctions because he believed they were ineffective and unfair to U.S. companies. Cheney's press office didn't immediately respond to a phone call seeking comment.

Halliburton says it complies with U.S. laws for doing business in Iran because all of its employees there are non-U.S. citizens and the subsidiary is incorporated outside the U.S....

...New York City Comptroller William Thompson, who oversees the funds, has pressed corporate boards at Halliburton, ConocoPhillips and General Electric Co. for two years to examine the financial risks of doing business in countries such as Iran and Syria.

Thompson has said use of an offshore subsidiary by Halliburton to do business in Iran ``violates the spirit, if not the letter of the law.''

We all know by now that all evil in the world originates from things Clinton, right? The Times article goes on:

An executive order signed by President Clinton in 1995 specifically prohibits U.S. firms from activities that would benefit the Iranian petroleum industry. The order accuses Iran of sponsorship of international terrorism, undermining the Middle East peace process and developing weapons of mass destruction.

Development of petroleum resources, Clinton said at the time, "would provide new funds that the Iranian government could use to continue its current policies."

Halliburton's Iran operations are virtually all related to oil and gas, and generated at least $39 million in revenue last year
, the company said.

Funding terrorists from the Caymans and Dubai is okay with the Vice President, it would seem. If there were, I should say, an actual presence of the company in the Caymans:

A January report by CBS' "60 Minutes" featured Thompson and raised questions about the Halliburton subsidiary that does business in Iran.

In that report, a CBS reporter traveled to the company's Cayman Islands operations, only to find no such company there. Instead, the building is owned by a local bank.

A bank employee told the reporter that when mail arrived for the Halliburton subsidiary, it was forwarded directly to Houston.

The aforementioned 60 Minutes story adds this:

“These three companies, as far as we were concerned, appear to have violated the spirit of the law,” says Thompson. “In the case of Halliburton, as an example, they have an offshore subsidiary in the Cayman Islands. That subsidiary is doing business with Iran.”

That subsidiary, Halliburton Products and Services, Ltd., is wholly owned by the U.S.-based Halliburton and is registered in a building in the capital of the Cayman Islands – a building owned by the local Calidonian Bank. Halliburton and other companies set up in this Caribbean Island, because of tax and secrecy laws that are corporate friendly.

Halliburton is the company that Vice President Dick Cheney used to run. He was CEO in 1995 to 2000, during which time Halliburton Products and Services set up shop in Iran. Today, it sells about $40 million a year worth of oil field services to the Iranian Government.

In the case of Iran, Thompson says they earn most of their revenues through their oil industry. So what is the connection between that oil business and terrorism and weapons of mass destruction?

“The Iranian Government is receiving dollars from it. And then turning around and exporting terrorism around the world. It benefits terrorism. At least that's our belief,” says Thompson.....

....60 Minutes decided to ask Halliburton's subsidiary about its work in Iran. But we weren't allowed to enter the building with a camera. So we went in with a hidden camera, and were introduced to David Walker, manager of the local Calidonian Bank, where the subsidiary is registered.

60 Minutes was expecting to find a bustling business, but, to our surprise, Walker told us that while Halliburton Products and Services was registered at this address, it was in name only. There is no actual office here or anywhere else in the Caymans. And there are no employees on site.

We were told that if mail for the Halliburton subsidiary comes to this address, they re-route it to Halliburton headquarters in Houston.

“If you understood what most of these companies do, you would, they're not doing any business in Cayman per se. They're doing business, international business,” says Walker. “Would it make sense to have somebody in Cayman pushing paper around? I don't know. And some people do it. And some people don't. And it's mostly driven by whatever the issues are with the head office.”

Does that mean the head office is calling the shots? If it is, that would be against the law, which says the subsidiary must be completely independent of the U.S. company. But 60 Minutes’ attempts to ask headquarters in Houston about this were rebuffed.

More to come.

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