Cheney's Track Record
by The Progress Report
Published by Center for American progress (January 28, 2004)
Vice President Dick Cheney, the former CEO of Halliburton, yesterday chastised those “who intimidate opposition, tolerate and profit from corruption and maintain ties to terrorist groups.” But VP Cheney appears to have amassed a business record that embodies all he is criticizing. According to two new reports, while Cheney was CEO of Halliburton, the company deliberately skirted U.S. law to do business with state sponsors of terrorism, while spending millions to bribe a dictatorial regime in Nigeria. While Cheney's office continues to refuse comment on the matters, the reports are raising new questions about what CEO Cheney knew, and why such behavior was allowed to go on under his direct leadership. While VP Cheney has responded to these criticisms by saying Halliburton has been “unfairly maligned” by “desperate” political opponents, no one has yet disputed the facts. And for an Administration that has declared it will “actively investigate, arrest and prosecute corporate wrongdoers,” the question in Cheney's case is simple: Will the White House live up to its pledge?
DOING BUSINESS WITH SPONSORS OF TERRORISM: In an extensive report, CBS's 60 Minutes found that while VP Cheney was CEO, Halliburton deliberately located a mail box in the Cayman Islands in order to avoid U.S. sanctions (and U.S. taxes) and do business with Iran. According to New York City Comptroller William Thompson, the company “appears to have violated the spirit of the law” as the offshore subsidiary was not a separate company (as would be required), but a wholly owned arm of Halliburton set up specifically to evade U.S. sanctions. It was VP Cheney who oversaw the establishment of Halliburton's business dealings with Iran, and today the company still “sells about $40 million a year worth of oil services” to a government the U.S. says sponsors terrorism. As Thompson says, “The Iranian Government is receiving dollars from” Halliburton because of VP Cheney's business decisions, “and then turning around and exporting terrorism around the world. It benefits terrorism.” When Thompson filed a shareholder resolution on behalf of New York City's pension fund, “Halliburton attempted to block the shareholder resolution” but was denied by the SEC.
DOING BUSINESS WITH IRAQ: Part of VP Cheney's offshore schemes not only involved Iran, but also Iraq. As the WP reports, Halliburton also “held stakes in two firms that signed contracts to sell more than $73 million in oil production equipment and spare parts to Iraq while VP Cheney was chairman and chief executive officer.” VP Cheney's willingness to put profit ahead of laws designed to protect America's national security was epitomized when he said, “The good Lord didn't see fit to put oil and gas only where there are democratic regimes friendly to the United States.” And his efforts didn't stop when he left Halliburton – in 2001 the new Vice President quickly explored ways to lift sanctions against Iran, Libya and Iraq – all countries the Administration said sponsors international terror.
QUESTIONS OF CORRUPTION, PART I: The Dallas Morning News reports on new details of the French government's possible criminal charges against VP Cheney over allegations that he oversaw a massive international bribery scheme while CEO of Halliburton. Specifically, French law enforcement “is asking whether $180 million in payments made by a related company were bribes to pave the way for the deal.” The judge, known for his independence, has previously convicted “top executives in a separate major case involving kickbacks” and is “looking at whether VP Cheney may have been responsible for the payments to bribe Nigerian officials or as kickbacks to politicians or campaigns in the United States, France or Italy” – a crime under French and American law. If the French uncover evidence that bribes were made, “it could also lead to an investigation by U.S. authorities” under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Earlier this month, a London paper reported that French officials said VP Cheney “will now face a subpoena” for his alleged role.
QUESTIONS OF CORRUPTION, PART II: The Dallas Morning News also reports Halliburton is “facing a separate investigation in Nigeria and the United States after disclosing that some employees in Nigeria paid $2.4 million in bribes to a Nigerian who claimed to be a tax consultant and turned out to be a tax official.” The bribes in question also took place while Cheney was CEO of the company.
A RECORD OF OVERCHARGING THE GOVERNMENT: In light of Halliburton receiving more than $1.7 billion in no-bid Iraq contracts, potentially overcharging the government $61 million, and admitting its employees pilfered $6 million in Iraq, new questions are arising as to why Halliburton got such a large contract in the first place – especially considering its track record under CEO Cheney. During the Vice President's tenure, the company amassed a long record of overcharging the government. AP reported the GAO found that “in 1997 that the company billed the Army for questionable expenses for work in the Balkans, including charges of $85.98 per sheet of plywood that cost $14.06. And in 2002, the Pentagon's inspector general and a federal grand jury investigated allegations that a Halliburton subsidiary defrauded the government of millions of dollars by inflating prices for repairs and maintenance. The company was forced to pay $2 million in fines.”