An Enron-like accounting scandal is threatening to erupt around Halliburton, the multi-billion dollar oil company that Vice President Dick Cheney used to run. It emerged this week that the Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating Halliburton’s accounting methods while Cheney was its chief executive. Halliburton adopted new accounting methods in 1998 which allowed it to hide possible losses of hundreds of millions of dollars. Halliburton didn’t tell its investors of the change for more than a year. The company’s auditor Arthur Andersen gave Halliburton the green light.
Halliburton is the world’s largest oil services company, with more than $13 billion in annual revenues. Cheney made a fortune off of Halliburton, raking in more than $30 million in stock options alone. Wall street analysts have praised him for turning the company into a global giant with soaring revenues and business in more than 130 countries.
But Halliburton has also come under heavy criticism. It has consistently used its government connections to win lucrative contracts. And it is well known for its ties to countries with brutal military regimes, like Burma, Nigeria, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia. It also signed contracts with Iraq worth $73 million while Cheney was at the helm. This, despite his adamant support of sanctions against the country.
- Pratap Chatterjee, freelance journalist.
- To A Beloved–Shweta Jhaveri, Gardens of Eden (Putumayo World Music CD www.putumayo.com).