Halliburton Moving to Dubai

Posted on March 1st, 2007 in Politics by EngineerBoy

So, Halliburton has announced that they are moving their corporate headquarters from Houston, TX, USA to Dubai, UAE. Their stated reasoning is that, well, that’s where the action is and it makes sense for their CEO to be there.

Also note that Halliburton is spinning off their KBR subsidiary – and take special note that KBR is Halliburton’s engineering and military contracting arm, the arm that has done the bulk of contract work for the US government in Iraq.

So, here are three pieces of information that just seem to point to one inescapably unethical conclusion:

  • The CEO and Headquarters for Halliburton will relocate to Dubai.
  • Halliburton is spinning off KBR, which did most of the contracting work in Iraq for the US, and which is coming under increasing scrutiny by the ascendant Democratic party for no-bid contracts, shoddy work, price gouging, etc.
  • The outgoing Republican administration is losing their ability to protect the company that Dick Cheney ran just six short years ago – in fact, he went directly from being head of Halliburton to being the Vice President.

And now for some conjecture:

  • I’ll bet that extraditing someone from the UAE to the US can be made difficult, particularly if you are an executive with a multi-billion dollar multi-national corporation who recently moved your headquarters (and revenue base) to the UAE.
  • Halliburton is stating that they intend to retain their incorporation in the US and that only the CEO’s office and HQ are moving. I would not be surprised to hear an announcement down the line that Halliburton intends to move its incorporation to Dubai, as well. That’s strictly conjecture, but it sure seems like the next shoe to drop.
  • I’ll bet that Halliburton is going to do their damndest to get moved before the current lame-duck presidency ends and the new administration, almost assuredly Democrat, takes power and starts getting to look at the Iraq debacle from the inside. 
  • I’ll bet that there will be far-reaching, ongoing investigations and prosecutions related to the Iraq war, particularly directed against Halliburton for things as potentially drastic as war-profiteering, and perhaps even against members of the current administration for the ease with which business was simply handed to Halliburton/KBR, seemingly with no thought to competitive bid, fair pricing, or even ability to deliver. 
  • I’ll bet that divesting itself of the unit that did most of the contracting work in Iraq will serve to make it incrementally more difficult to involve Halliburton executives in the investigations/prosecutions (“What, you mean that company over there? They have nothing to do with us!”). 
  • I wonder if the UAE has any records-retention laws, and if they do, if they enforce them, and if they do, if Halliburton will care. I can see the situation arising where it will be awfully difficult for investigators to subpoena records from Halliburton, when said records either no longer exist, only exist in the UAE, or can’t really be located because they got misplaced during the spinoff of KBR – you know how it is when you move, things get misplaced. 
  • If you recall it was a Dubai-based company that the US wanted hire to manage our international ports a few months back. At the time it seemed crazy that our Middle-Eastern-hating current administration would paradoxically be so happy and smiley about outsourcing the running of US international ports (classified by every US intelligence service as highly vulnerable targets for terrorist strikes) to a company based in Dubai. 
  • Dubai, while working to become a cosmopolitan destination, still lists Islam as the official religion, provides government funding for almost all Sunni mosques (and almost none for Shi’a mosques), routinely denies visa applications from Jews, allows a brazen sex-slave trade (to support tourism, don’t you know?), treats migrant workers as indentured servants, and punishes homosexuality with death.  Yeah, I can see the appeal for Halliburton – what’s not to like?

On the face of it, this move, to me, is such a bald-faced attempt to both ensure the profits derived from Iraq are safe and to ensure that Halliburton execs don’t get thrown in jail that I can scarcely believe Halliburton has the guts to try it. The Bush/Cheney/oil hegemony is crumbling and I doubt that the current administration has enough power left to set the pick for Halliburton so they can escape.

Please also note that I have absolutely no inside information or access to facts beyond what’s being published in the news, so I could be way, way off base. However, I don’t think I am. Also, I actually don’t have a problem if Halliburton wants to move to the UAE to avoid US taxes – I say, good for them. That’s just business in the global market. However, my take is that any such move should be blocked by US regulators until after the dust settles from the Iraq mess and that any resulting music has been faced – ditto on the spinoff of KBR.

Post a comment