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By Paul Hill
HOUSTON - Halliburton, the world's second largest oil-field services company and largest U.S. contractor operating in Iraq, announced on March 11, 2007 that it will move its corporate headquarters from Houston to Dubai, UAE. Halliburton CEO David Lesar will relocate to Dubai as part of the move. No information was available on whether former Halliburton CEO Vice President Dick Cheney will be part of the move.
Halliburton moved its corporate headquarters from Dallas to Houston just four years ago. Halliburton was founded in 1919 in Duncan, Oklahoma. Vice President Dick Cheney was President, chairman and CEO of the firm from 1995 to 2000. The Senate Finance Committee made inquiries about a Halliburton subsidiary doing business in Iran in 2004. Ongoing investigations started in 2004 are probing whether Halliburton, among others, made illegal payments to win a contract to build a natural gas process plant in Nigeria. Outrageous scandals surround the company's operations in Iraq and disastrous post-Katrina reconstruction at taxpayers' expense.
Democrats and others are questioning whether the move will enable Halliburton to expand business with Iran and/or make it possible to avoid paying U.S. taxes. Sen. Brian Dorgan, D-N.D., declared, "I think Congress ought to hold hearings to try to determine why one of this country's major defense contractors has decided to move its principal offices offshore. What's behind it?" Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. stated, "At the same time they'll be avoiding U.S. taxes, I'm sure they won't stop insisting on taking their profits in cold hard U.S. cash." Many other Congressmembers are calling for an investigation of the move. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, responded to the announcement, "I think that raises a lot of serious issues we have to look at. Does this mean they are going to quit paying taxes in America? They are going to take all the advantages of our country but not pay their fair share of taxes? They get a lot of government contracts - is this going to affect the investigations that are going on? Because we have a lot of evidence of misuse of government contracts and how they have cheated the American soldier and cheated the American taxpayer. They have taken the money and not provided the services, so does this mean that we won't be able to pursue these investigations?" UAE has no extradition treaty with the U.S.
The Halliburton Watch website points out that "Halliburton is moving to UAE at a time when it is being investigated in the U.S. for bribery, bid rigging, defrauding the military and illegally profiting in Iran. It is currently in the process of divesting all of its ownership interest in the scandal-plagued KBR subsidiary, notorious for overcharging the military and serving contaminated food and water to the troops in Iraq. Sarah Anderson of the Institute for Policy Studies notes, "Despite the billions in U.S. government contracts Halliburton has received, it has no loyalty or sense of obligation to U.S. troops or taxpayers."
Dubai, a tax free haven and energy industry boomtown, is excited over the announcement,
while people in Houston are rather glum. Although the corporation denies there
will be a job loss in Houston, many are expecting a significant job loss over
the next few years. Local pundits are speculating whether the move, which follows
a number of other oil corporations moving to or opening offices in Dubai and
the middle east, is a harbinger of a coming economic decline in Houston.