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Take the Money and Run


Question for Cheney: Is Iran an axis of evil or just another ATM for Halliburton?

What is the U.S. policy toward Iran? Doug Feith and his neocon nabobs, bent on protecting Israel’s right-wing regime, seem to want to attack Iran next, now that Iraq is “conquered.” There must be a hell of a fight going on among the puppeteers of George W. Bush over what to do with oil-soaked Iran: Halliburton does business with what Bush calls a spoke of the “axis of evil.”

Dick Cheney is so central to the Bush regime — he’s the chief puppeteer — that one hardly knows where to start in trying to figure out what we want from Iran (other than oil). Does the commander in chief (that was Cheney, not Bush, on 9/11) want to conquer Iran or just do business with it?

The alleged leak of Pentagon classified data on Iran to the powerful pro-Israel lobby AIPAC has fallen off the front pages, but refresh your memory with this solid piece a month ago by The Washington Post‘s Robin Wright and Dan Eggen. And the Post‘s Jefferson Morley examined it further at the time with this roundup of stories from other countries.

Currently, Halliburton is under investigation for violating the sanctions against Iran by doing business there. The company insists that it’s not directly doing business in Iran, that its activities are those of its foreign subsidiaries. Here’s Halliburton’s explanation from its August 3 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission:

We have a Cayman Islands subsidiary with operations in Iran, and other European subsidiaries that manufacture goods destined for Iran and/or render services in Iran. The United States imposes trade restrictions and economic embargoes that prohibit United States incorporated entities and United States citizens and residents from engaging in commercial, financial, or trade transactions with some foreign countries, including Iran, unless authorized by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the United States Treasury Department or exempted by statute.

We received and responded to an inquiry in mid-2001 from OFAC with respect to the operations in Iran by a Halliburton subsidiary that is incorporated in the Cayman Islands. The OFAC inquiry requested information with respect to compliance with the Iranian Transaction Regulations. Our 2001 written response to OFAC stated that we believed that we were in full compliance with applicable sanction regulations. In January 2004, we received a follow-up letter from OFAC requesting additional information. We responded fully to this request on March 19, 2004. We understand this matter has now been referred by OFAC to the Department of Justice. In July 2004, we received from an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of Texas a grand jury subpoena requesting the production of documents. We intend to cooperate with the government’s investigation.

And the company added:

Separate from the OFAC inquiry, we completed a study in 2003 of our activities in Iran during 2002 and 2003 and concluded that these activities were in full compliance with applicable sanction regulations. These sanction regulations require isolation of entities that conduct activities in Iran from contact with United States citizens or managers of United States companies.

This past spring, however, the pension funds of the New York City cops and firefighters, as holders of Halliburton stock, protested the company’s dealings with Iran, particularly an office it opened there in February 2000. Halliburton tried to stop the pension funds from asking other shareholders to consider the proposal formally, but the SEC refused to block New York City Comptroller Bill Thompson from inserting it into the record. Thompson’s protest, which the company’s shareholders voted to reject, of course, contended that “Halliburton’s use of its Cayman Islands subsidiary to establish operations in Tehran violates the spirit, if not the letter, of the law.”

Halliburton has been diligent in pointing out that only its foreign-based subsidiaries deal with Iran. But if you peer deep into the fine print of Halliburton’s SEC filings, you find mysterious references. In a list of its astounding number of subsidiaries as of December 31, 1998, for example, there’s a Kellogg Iran Inc. It’s 100 percent owned by Halliburton and incorporated in Delaware, according to the company’s own filing with the SEC.

That subsidiary still exists. In another SEC filing’s “list of Halliburton current affiliates,” as of September 12, 2003, Kellogg Iran Inc. is among them.

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 5, 2004

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