Halliburton Questioned regarding Iran
|12th Dec 2003
||Questionable Business Practice
|New York official wants information
By DAVID IVANOVICH
Copyright 2003 Houston Chronicle Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON -- New York City's comptroller is prodding Houston-based Halliburton Co. to release more details about its business dealings in Iran.
William Thompson Jr., who manages the New York police and fire department pension funds, has been agitating for months for Halliburton's board to reconsider doing business in Iran because of that country's links to terrorism.
Federal law bars American citizens from doing business in Iran, but independent foreign subsidiaries of U.S. firms can operate there.
The two New York funds have about $31 million invested in Halliburton.
"If we are trying to eradicate terrorism, we must ensure that companies in our portfolio are not using offshore subsidiaries to legally evade United States sanctions against terrorist-sponsoring states," Thompson said.
Halliburton spokeswoman Wendy Hall responded: "We hope that the (comptroller's) office is not playing politics with pension funds."
In March, Halliburton officials promised to detail the company's Iranian operations. In exchange, Thompson agreed to withdraw a shareholder proposal urging the board to reconsider doing business in Iran.
In October, Halliburton sent Thompson a report stamped "confidential." Company officials hoped the information would remain secret until Halliburton issues its 2003 annual report next year. Thompson, however, posted the report on his Web site.
In that document, Halliburton revealed that its Halliburton Products & Services Ltd., a Cayman Islands firm headquartered in the United Arab Emirates, expected to sell more than $39 million worth of oil-field services to customers in Iran this year.
Halliburton also owns a British oil tool company, and three engineering outfits based in the United Kingdom and Sweden, which have some minor sales in Iran.
In working in Iran, Halliburton said it was competing against the foreign affiliates of a number of companies well known in Houston, including Schlumberger, Baker Hughes, Smith International, Weatherford, ABB Vetco Gray, FMC and Cooper-Cameron.
On Monday, Thompson complained the report failed to detail the "potential financial reputational risks" of its operations in Iran.
Hall, while calling the release of the report "surprising and disturbing," argued it "provided a full and accurate picture" of the company's operations in Iran.
If the New York comptroller has a problem with U.S. policy toward Iran, "we suggest he address that concern to Congress or the executive branch," Hall said.