In 2003, Halliburton was awarded a rich $4.2 billion contract from the U.S. government. Dick Cheney said at that time that he has severed his connections with it, but records show he still has their stocks which are currently worth $8 million.
When Cheney was Defense Secretary, he authored a study for the U.S. Department of Defense by Brown and Root Services (now known as Kellogg, Brown and Root), a wholly owned subsidiary of Halliburton. The study recommended that private firms should take over logistical support programs for U.S. military operations around the world.
Two years after his Defense Secretary position, he joined Halliburton as its CEO. Thanks to his government study, Halliburton reaped huge benefits directly from the government. Cheney was rewarded $44 million for five years of his work. He quit the job and became the Vice-President but still retained Halliburton’s stock. He was asked about the money he made at Halliburton. He told the Press dismissively:
I tell you that the government had absolutely nothing to do with it....severed all my ties with the company, gotten rid of all my financial interest.
After the war started in Iraq, his company Halliburton made even more money -- the Bush administration gave away lucrative reconstruction contracts in Iraq to mostly U.S.-based corporations like Halliburton and denied contracts to many Iraqi and foreign based corporations.
Bush said in a statement in December 11, 2003: The taxpayers understand why it makes sense for countries that risk lives to participate in the contracts in Iraq, It's very simple. Our people risk their lives, friendly coalition folks risk their lives, and therefore the contracting is going to reflect that.
In other words, the victors get the spoils. It was sort of like no-bid process and showed how much influence the private companies have with the government.
Halliburton, even though they earned more money, hardly paid any taxes by using off-shore subsidiaries as tax shelters to hide profits. Halliburton also used their off-shore subsidiaries to contract for services and sell banned equipment to countries like Iran, Iraq and Libya.
The article states that Halliburton currently has 58 offshore subsidiaries in Caribbean tax haven. Under Cheney’s supervision, Halliburton’s tax payments to the U.S. went from $302 million to nil in 1999. To add further insult, Halliburton received a refund of $85 million from the Internal Revenue Service in 1999.
Cheney and the Bush administration are very vocal against Iran, but when Cheney was CEO from 1995 to 2000, Halliburton Products and Services set up a company in Iran, which was still under sanctions with the U.S. The subsidiary made about $40 million a year thanks to oil field service work for the Iranian government. When Lesley Stahl from CBS's 60 Minutes visited their offices in the Cayman Island, they had no office and no employees. The mailing address was a local bank, where the subsidiary registered their company. Halliburton did this to avoid paying taxes and prevent itself from direct involvement with Iran.
But Halliburton made most of the profits from the Iraq war. Before the war began, Halliburton was 19th on the U.S. Army’s list of top contractors, but rapidly zoomed to number 1 in 2003.
Cheney still retains their stock. The stock which was worth $241,498 a year ago has zoomed to $8 million for an increase of 3,281 per cent, according to Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ). While most of the stocks in the country are reeling and will be lucky enough to see a double digit rise, Halliburton saw a huge increase.
Cheney is still receiving salaries from Halliburton. He was paid $205,298 in 2001; $162,392 in 2002; $178,437 in 2003; and $194,852 in 2004. Cheney said he has donated the proceeds to charities, but so far has shown no records.
The Congressional Research Service has said holding stock options while in the office still constitute a “financial interest” even if he donates the proceeds to charities. They also said deferred compensation is also a financial interest.
Lautenberg pointed out Halliburton has made more than $10 billion for contracts in Iraq. They also received Katrina rebuilding contracts and helped build an American prison in Guantanamo Bay. The company has been criticized by auditors for over charging for services, providing unclean water to the troops, marking up meal prices for troops and inflating gas prices in a deal with a Kuwaiti supplier.
It is unseemly for the Vice President to continue to benefit from this company at the same time his Administration funnels billions of dollars to it.
Cheney will probably respond to these allegations with “So?”. It seems they don’t need ships like the Pirates of the Caribbean just wars to swindle the country.