Monday, August 29, 2005

The Raw Story | Senior Democrat says decision to demote Halliburton worker will chill whistleblowing

The top U.S. Army contracting official who first raised criticism over Halliburton's no-bid contract in Iraq was demoted Sunday for what the army called poor job performance -- the first time her performance was rated low in 20 years.

Today, Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) blasted the Bush administration’s decision to fire the lead government whistleblower in a statement to RAW STORY. Democrats also sent a letter to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld today demanding an explanation. The letter follows this article.

“Secretary Rumsfeld has lowered the axe on someone courageous enough to speak the truth about an abuse of taxpayer dollars," he remarked. "Ms. Greenhouse was simply being honest, which seems to be enough to get you fired in this Administration.

"This action is meant to send a chilling message to other federal workers: keep your mouth shut," he added.

Lautenberg has repeatedly called for Senate hearings to investigate Halliburton’s contracts, but the Republican leadership of Congress has declined to hold any inquiries.

“Instead of getting to the truth of these contracts, this Administration wants to get rid of anybody who tells the truth,” Lautenberg said.

The official, Bunnatine "Bunny" Greenhouse, had overseen contracts at the Army Corps of Engineers, which has managed Iraq reconstruction work. She was removed Saturday from her elite Senior Executive Service position and reassigned her to a lesser job in the civil works division.

Greenhouse's lawyer, Michael Kohn, told the New York Times he saw "obvious reprisal" for the objections she raised to a series of decisions involving the Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown Root, which has netted more than $10 billion for work in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"She is being demoted because of her strict adherence to procurement requirements and the army's preference to sidestep them when it suits their needs," he said Sunday.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean also weighed in, saying, "Today's news regarding Bunnatine Greenhouse is another disturbing example of the Bush Administration's determination to abuse their power to hide the truth and silence, smear or demote their critics."

A spokeswoman for the Army Corps of Engineers, told the Times that the action against Greenhouse was approved by the Army.

#
LETTER ISSUED BY REP. HENRY WAXMAN (D-CA); SEN. DORGAN (D-ND), SEN. LAUTENBERG (D-NJ)

We are writing to request that you investigate the Secretary of the Army's decision to remove Bunnatine Greenhouse, a career civil servant in the Senior Executive Service, from her position as principal assistant for contracting for the Army Corps of Engineers. The decision to remove Ms. Greenhouse from her position and demote her appears to be retaliation for her June 27, 2005 testimony before Congress.

In her June 27 testimony, Ms. Greenhouse detailed her objections to improper and potentially illegal conduct in the award of contracts for Iraq reconstruction projects. Specifically, Ms. Greenhouse objected to the contract awarded to a Halliburton subsidiary, Kellogg, Brown & Root, to restore Iraqi oil infrastructure. Ms. Greenhouse testified that the contract award process was compromised by improper influence by political appointees, participation by Halliburton officials in meetings where bidding requirements were discussed, and a lack of competition.[1]

On July 14 - less than three weeks after her testimony - the Secretary of the Army approved Ms. Greenhouse's removal. The dismissal is to take effect on August 27, 2005.

At the hearing, Ms. Greenhouse testified that she had been warned by the acting general counsel of the Army Corps of Engineers that her appearance before Congress would not be in her best interest. She testified nonetheless because she had exhausted all internal avenues and believed she had an obligation to bring her concerns to the attention of Congress. The Secretary's action appears to be the retaliation that she was warned about.

Ms. Greenhouse first raised questions about special treatment for Halliburton in 2003, when she objected to the five-year term of the no-bid, sole-source Restore Iraqi Oil contract. On October 22, 2004, the Army referred Ms. Greenhouse's allegations of procurement irregularities to the DOD Inspector General. The Acting Secretary of the Army further ordered that any adverse personnel action against Ms. Greenhouse be suspended "so that Ms. Greenhouse remains in her current position until a sufficient record is available to address the specific matters [she] raised."[2]

The DOD Inspector General's office has confirmed to our staff that its investigation of Ms. Greenhouse's allegations is "open and ongoing."[3] The Inspector General's office indicated that it has not provided any findings or final report to the Secretary of the Army regarding Ms. Greenhouse's allegations. Indeed, the office further told us that it is working with the Department of Justice regarding potential prosecutions relating to the Halliburton contracts.[4]

Given these facts, the sudden dismissal of Ms. Greenhouse appears highly suspect. The appropriate procedure would be to wait for the results of the ongoing Inspector General investigation. In fact, this is exactly what the Acting Secretary of the Army ordered last October. No explanation has been provided for the reversal in policy and the rash dismissal of Ms. Greenhouse.

Retaliation against employees for providing information to Congress is illegal and entirely unacceptable. Ms. Greenhouse has given Congress important information essential to our oversight of waste, fraud, and abuse. Instead of turning a blind eye to improper conduct, Ms. Greenhouse worked within her own agency to object. When her internal objections were dismissed, she raised her concerns with Congress. These actions to protect the integrity of the procurement process and prevent the waste of taxpayer dollars should be commended, not serve as grounds for dismissal.

We ask that you conduct an investigation into the decision to remove Ms. Greenhouse from her position. We also request that you reinstate Ms. Greenhouse pending such an inquiry.

Aljazeera.Net - US Army demotes Halliburton critic

A top US Army contracting official who criticised a large, non-competitive contract with the Halliburton Company for work in Iraq has been demoted for what the army called poor job performance.


The New York Times said Bunnatine Greenhouse had worked in military procurement for 20 years and for the past several years had been the chief overseer of contracts at the Army Corps of Engineers, the agency that has managed much of the reconstruction work in Iraq.

The demotion removes her from the elite Senior Executive Service and reassigns her to a lesser job in the corps' civil works division, the report said on Monday.

Greenhouse's lawyer, Michael Kohn, called the action an "obvious reprisal" for the strong objections she raised in 2003 to a series of corps decisions involving the Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root which has garnered more than $10 billion for work in Iraq, The Times said.

Sidestepping requirements

Vice-President Dick Cheney was chief executive at Halliburton before he joined President George Bush's election campaign in 2000.

"She is being demoted because of her strict adherence to procurement requirements and the Army's preference to sidestep them when it suits their needs," the newspaper quoted Kohn as saying in an interview.

He also said the army had violated a commitment to delay Greenhouse's dismissal until the completion of an inquiry by the Pentagon's inspector-general.

Good past reviews

Carol Sanders, spokeswoman for the Army Corps of Engineers, said the personnel action against Greenhouse had been approved by the Department of the Army, the paper said.

In a memorandum dated 3 June 2005, the commander of the corps, Lieutenant-General Carl Strock, said the administrative record "clearly demonstrates that Ms Greenhouse's removal from the SES is based on her performance and not in retaliation for any disclosures of alleged improprieties that she may have made".

Kohn said Greenhouse had initially received stellar performance ratings, the paper pointed out.

But her reviews became negative at roughly the time she began objecting to decisions she saw as improperly favouring Kellogg Brown & Root, he said.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Worker admits to kickbacks in Iraq - The Honolulu Advertiser - Hawaii's Newspaper

By Griff Witte
Washington Post

WASHINGTON — A former worker for a Halliburton Co. subsidiary faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of as much as $1.25 million after pleading guilty to taking kickbacks in Iraq in a scheme that defrauded the U.S. government, court records show.

It marks the second case this year of a Halliburton worker facing criminal charges in connection with the company's work in Iraq.

Glenn Allen Powell, who pleaded guilty on Friday in U.S. District Court in Rock Island, Ill., was employed by Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root Inc. in Iraq from October 2003 until January 2005. During that time, he admitted to taking 20 percent off the top of a subcontract, or more than $110,000.

The fraud came as part of KBR's work on a multibillion-dollar Army contract to provide logistical support to U.S. troops worldwide, including in Iraq. According to the plea agreement, Powell accepted kickbacks from an Iraqi business that had won a job to help renovate four buildings in Iraq for office and warehouse space.

Powell's fraud was discovered in January when KBR investigators searched Powell's residence in Baghdad and found large amounts of cash, including $8,000 worth of $100 bills stuffed in a jacket pocket, $1,580 on top of the refrigerator and about $3,500 worth of Iraqi dinars in the top shelf of a dresser, the court papers said.

KBR then fired Powell, and he returned to the United States.

While the scheme was ongoing, KBR had been unwittingly billing the U.S. government an inflated amount for reimbursement because of the 20 percent kickback. The difference has since been refunded.

"When the issue was discovered, KBR removed the company in question from consideration for any future work as a subcontractor," Halliburton spokeswoman Cathy Mann said in a statement.

In March, a former KBR manager named Jeff Alex Mazon was charged in an indictment with defrauding the U.S. government of nearly $4 million by inflating the price of fuel tankers for military operations. He is accused of taking $1 million from a subcontractor. In that case, too, federal prosecutors began to investigate after an internal KBR investigation uncovered evidence of wrongdoing.

Mann said the cases are not related. Halliburton is the Pentagon's largest contractor in Iraq. Its work has come under scrutiny in part because Vice President Dick Cheney was the firm's chief executive between 1995 and 2000. Halliburton and the Pentagon deny the firm receives favorable treatment.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Halliburton’s role in toppling Oriental Oil Kish to be probed

TEHRAN, Aug. 23 (MNA) — The Oriental Oil Kish Company’s success in the bid to drill the phases 9 and 10 of the South Pars Gas Field Development Plan against its rival companies including National Iranian Drilling Company (NIDC) became possible due to the company’s partnership with the Halliburton (the oil services company once headed by U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney).
“When it won the tender for drilling South Pars phases 9 and 10, Oriental Oil Kish was a small contractor and it lacked the necessary drilling equipment, particularly the drilling mast. But due to the presence of Halliburton and its supports for the company, the Kish Oil Company attended the tender and was even able to win the bid,” an informed source said.



He added that after the international media disclosed the Oriental Oil Kish’s relationship with an American company and their successful bid to develop oil projects in Iran, Halliburton announced that it will not work or conclude agreement with Iran. However, in an unofficial letter, it later on revealed its indirect cooperation with the Iranian side in the drilling project of the phases.



Following the withdrawal of Oriental Oil Kish Co., NIDC managing director Seifollah Jashnsaz told the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) that it has been about a month since they put forward the proposal for developing the project. “We have agreed to answer them by the end of the week on August 25.”



He further explained that the NIDC is reviewing the prices to see if the company is able to take the project based on the formerly suggested prices.


Monday, August 22, 2005

HoustonChronicle.com - Chicago Bridge gets Halliburton-related subpoena

Dow Jones/AP

WASHINGTON — Chicago Bridge & Iron Co., a Netherlands-based engineering and construction company, has received a subpoena from a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation into a Halliburton Co. construction project in Nigeria where Chicago Bridge was a subcontractor.

Houston-based Halliburton's foreign operations have been the focus of investigations by various regulatory agencies. The U.S. Department of Justice and the SEC have been investigating allegations of bribery of Nigerian officials connected to the construction of a natural-gas liquefaction plant at Bonny Island.

Halliburton said it was under formal SEC investigation in June 2004.

Chicago Bridge & Iron said in its filing Friday with the SEC that it is cooperating with the request, but it didn't provide further details about the subpoena.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Ex-Halliburton Subsidiary Worker Guilty

By JAN DENNIS
The Associated Press
Friday, August 19, 2005; 8:32 PM

PEORIA, Ill. -- A former employee of a Halliburton Co. subsidiary pleaded guilty Friday to accepting more than $100,000 in kickbacks from an Iraqi company in exchange for securing it a U.S. military construction contract, prosecutors said.

Glenn Allen Powell, 40, of Cedar Park, Texas, will be sentenced Nov. 18 in federal court for major fraud against the United States and violating the anti-kickback act. He faces 10 years in prison on each count and up to $1.25 million in fines.


"He's very sorry about what he did. He made a mistake and he wants to make it right," said Powell's attorney, Samuel Bassett.

Powell, who was fired after an internal investigation, has repaid part of the money to Halliburton and plans to repay the rest, Bassett said.

Prosecutors say Powell was a subcontracts administrator for Halliburton subsidiary KBR Inc., which provides engineering and other project management services for the military.

In exchange for $110,300 in kickbacks, Powell recommended the Iraqi company for a $609,000 subcontract to renovate four buildings into office and warehouse space, prosecutors say. Prosecutors declined to name the company.

"A government contract is not a license to steal," U.S. Attorney Jan Paul Miller said in a statement. "The public should be able to trust that the individuals who implement government contracts do so honestly."

Halliburton has removed the Iraqi company from its list of subcontractors and given the military a credit for the amount of the kickback, spokeswoman Melissa Norcross said.

Vice President Dick Cheney headed Halliburton from 1995 to 2000, and Democratic members of Congress have repeatedly questioned whether Halliburton and its subsidiaries received favorable treatment because of its connections. Cheney and other administration officials have denied Cheney had any role in Halliburton's government contract work.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Vanguard - Cover Stories : Senate probes N280bn Halliburton contract

By Emmanuel Aziken & Hector Igbikiowubo
Posted to the Web: Monday, August 15, 2005
*Crude oil prices top $67p/b


ABUJA —THE Senate has launched a probe into the $2 billion (about N280 billion) gas to liquid project awarded by the Chevron/NNPC joint venture to Halliburton, the American-based multinational service company that was recently accused of paying $180 million bribe to past Nigerian officials.

The US thirst for gasoline and fears of a hurricane have pushed the oil market further into uncharted territory, with prices breaking the $67 mark at the weekend.

Besides, the Senate investigation under the aegis of its Committee on Upstream Petroleum, is also focusing attention on the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC’s) utilisation of the 450,000 barrels of crude allocated to it daily for domestic utilisation. The NNPC which is spearheading agitation for the increase of the domestic prices of petroleum products has acknowledged importing a significant proportion of products utilised in the country.

The Senate investigations, according to letters dispatched to the NNPC, ChevronTexaco and the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), followed petitions on contracts received by stakeholders. The DPR is being drawn into the investigation to ascertain the quantity of crude it has been allocating to the NNPC for domestic consumption.
The letters were signed by Senator Lee Maeba, chairman of the Senate Committee on Upstream Petroleum.
In its letter to ChevronTexaco entitled: “Request for Information on the Escravos Gas to Liquid (GTL) Project,” the Senate Committee requested information on the contract awarded to Halliburton.
The letter reads:

“The Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources, Upstream has received several petitions from the public with respect to the Escravos Gas to Liquid (GTL) project.
“You are, therefore, requested to submit all information on the project which include but not limited to:

lEvidence of due process leading to the award of the contract.
lCopy of the contract to Halliburton Services Inc. including commercial value of (the) project
lTechnical/Commercial evaluation report of all bids received
lDetails of Final Investment Decision (FID) reached with the NNPC
lAny other information to prove transparency of the process…”
Halliburton was, in 2004, the subject of an investigation that centred on the alleged payment of an estimated $180 million of bribe to past Nigerian government officials.

In its letter to Dr Funso Kupolokun, Group Managing Director of the NNPC dated August 2, 2005, on the same project, the Senate Committee requested information on the project and also information on the utilisation of the 450,000 barrels of crude given the NNPC for domestic consumption.

Crude oil prices top $67 p/b

On the local front, the Shell Petroleum Development Company operated Joint Venture in Nigeria’s upstream petroleum sector paid over $3.5billion (about N469 billion) in taxes and royalties to both the state and Federal Governments in year 2004, indicating a quantum leap when compared to the previous year’s figures.

US light crude closed $1 up at $66.80 a barrel, after hitting $67.10 earlier, while in London Brent crude closed $1.12 higher at $66.50. Worldwide petrol and gasoline prices are at unprecedented levels. US refinery stoppages came just as car sales and demand hit highs. The latest surge has been partly triggered by more than a dozen breakdowns at US installations, the latest of which hit a ConocoPhillips refinery in Illinois.

And fears Tropical Storm Irene, which could intensify to hurricane strength, is heading for the US Gulf Coast have added to worries about supply interruptions. Last week, US government figures showed a 2.1 million barrel decline in US stockpiles during the first week of August.

Shell pays $3.5bn tax

The SPDC joint venture also accounted for 43 per cent of Nigeria’s total crude oil production, while topping gas production by six per cent during the period under review.

Specifically, last year, the SPDC joint venture paid $2.2 billion (about N294.8 billion) as Petroleum Profit Tax to the Federal Government, representing an 83 per cent increase compared to $1.2billion (about N160.8billion) paid in 2003.

The joint venture also paid $904 million (about N121.136 billion) as royalty payments, indicating over 40 per cent increase compared to $608 million (about N81.472 billion) paid in year 2003. “The SPDC also made a statutory contribution of $68.9 million (about N9.23billion) to the NDDC (of which Shell share was $21 million).”

The SPDC joint venture also paid Pay As You Earn (PAYE) tax to state governments where its staff are resident as well as education tax to the Federal Government coffer. Although the amount paid by the joint venture as PAYE tax and education tax could not be ascertained from the report, there are indications that it may exceed $350 million (about N46.9 billion).

Oil production during the period also averaged one million barrels per day (p/d) compared to 910,000 b/d in 2003, indicating a 10 per cen increase and the highest level achieved since 1980.
The increase in production is due to a higher contribution from the EA field which accounts for 150,000 b/d, lower production deferments and the reactivation of some previously shut-in oil wells.

This improved working environment saw the joint venture’s crude oil output accounting for 43 per cent of Nigeria’s total output in 2004. Similarly, gas sales recorded an average 1,242 million standard cubic feet per day, against 1,171 million standard cubic feet p/d sold in 2003.

The report also revealed that during the period crude oil theft peaked at 60,000 b/d and low periods of 40,000 b/d, recorded from 71 incidents, indicating a 20 per cent drop from 88 incidents in year 2003.

The report also showed that the joint venture increased the use of local contractors in support of the Federal Government’s drive for improved Nigerian content, pointing out that contracts valued at $727 million (about N97.4 billion) was awarded to Nigerian companies. “20 per cent from the Niger Delta).”

Responding to questions on the report, Shell's Director of External Affairs, the Reverend Precious Omuku, explained that contrary to reports about a tax default by some oil companies, there was an assumption on the part of oil companies that the Federal Government would let them enjoy some of the oil windfall.

“When the oil price gets to $30, according to the MoU, government can begin to be generous to the industry by letting it use certain percentage in the upside by giving you some of the windfall. But you can not take it unless government gives you. There was an assumption that government would give. But government did not give. That is what they were referring to. It wasn’t a default on tax,” he said.
On the issue of gas supply to proposed IPPs for the Niger Delta, the Shell director explained that a gas supply programme was required, adding that this will take sometime to put in place.

“They can build those thermal plants very quickly. They can even buy them off the shelf. But you need a programme to gather the gas to supply to them. So the two must shake hands. That is what we mean when you hear we can not supply all of them in the time span.

“But given time to develop all your gas projects, you can supply them. There isn’t a dearth of gas, it is the timing. We need an alignment of the two. Everybody would have to bring money to the table. It has cost us in the past like two billion dollars in gas development.
When I say us, I mean the joint venture and that money has to be found in order to grow that kind of venture. Among the stakeholders, there is no lack of commitment to any of the IPPs,” he said.

├ľn shortage of gas supply to the Egbin thermal power plant, he said contrary to claims, there was no competition between LNG and domestic supplies, adding that the power utility company has suddenly become more efficient.

“What has happened is that NEPA suddenly became more efficient and started demanding for more gas beyond the contract level that we have with the NGC and so there is a tightness in the supply. We have had very good consultations with NEPA and NGC and there is this level of growth and the industry is ramming up to get to that level of supply. There was no failure really or preference to supply to the NLNG.”
He also reiterated the joint venture’s commitment to the flare-out target noting however, that the target is predicated on a particular level of funding.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Al Jazeera - Halliburton provided Iran with key nuclear reactor components

Halliburton, the scandal-plagued oil company, that Vice President Dick Cheney used to run, sold an Iranian company key components for a nuclear reactor, Halliburton sources revealed.

Cheney was CEO from 1995 to 2000, during which Halliburton Products and Services set up shop in Iran.

Halliburton, which sells about $40 million a year worth of oil field services to the Iranian Government, was secretly aiding one of Iran’s top nuclear program officials on natural gas related projects and provided the official's oil development company with the components last April, the sources said.

FARS, one of Iran's many state controlled news agencies reported last month the arrest of several executives of the Oriental Oil Kish Company, which is owned by sons and other relatives of the defeated mullah presidential candidate Hashemi Rafsanjani, saying that the men were involved in widespread corruption of Iran's oil industry, specifically tied to the country's business dealings with Halliburton.

According to a report posted on the Iran Press News website: "They were brought up on charges of economic corruption". “Following the necessary investigations by the judiciary's bailiffs, with warrants from the public prosecutor's office, the case of economic corruption and malfeasance, certain of the authorities of Oriental Kish Oil Company have been arrested and under questioning. The head of the board of directors was also among those detained.”

Halliburton, with a history of violations of U.S. law by conducting business with countries the Bush administration claims are supporting “terrorism”, was working with Cyrus Nasseri, vice chairman of the board of directors of Oriental Oil Kish, on oil and natural gas development projects in Tehran, registered in the United Kingdom and Dubai. Nasseri, a key member of Iran’s nuclear development team, participated in Iran’s nuclear negotiating with the European Union and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

According to a report published by the Financial Times: “Nasseri, a senior Iranian diplomat negotiating with Europe over Iran's nuclear program, is at the heart of deals with U.S. energy companies to develop the country's oil industry”.

“A reliable source stated that, given the parameters, the close-knit cooperation and association of one of the key members of the regime's nuclear negotiation team with Halliburton can be an alarm bell which will necessarily instigate the dynamics of the members of the regimes' negotiating committee,” according to the Iran Press News story.

In late July, Nasseri was questioned for passing Iran’s nuclear secrets to Halliburton and receiving $1 million in bribes from the company, Iranian government officials said.

According to Iran Press News, a huge network of oil mafia was uncovered during investigations.

Halliburton sources revealed that the company sold Iran centrifuges and detonators to be used specifically for a nuclear reactor as well oil and natural gas drilling parts for well projects to Oriental Oil Kish.

Halliburton’s business with Oriental Oil Kish first surfaced in January, when the Iranian company said that it gave some contracts of the South Pars natural gas drilling project to Halliburton Products and Services, a subsidiary of Dallas-based Halliburton.

Later on, Halliburton said the South Pars gas field project in Iran will be the its last project in the country, “due to a poor business environment,” according to BBC.

In May and under mounting pressure from lawmakers in Washington, Halliburton decided to end its deals with Nasseri, but continued acting as an advisory capacity to his company.

Currently, the U.S. law doesn’t prohibit foreign subsidiaries from having business with what President Bush calls “rouge” nations as long as the subsidiaries are truly independent of the mother company.

But Halliburton’s Cayman Island subsidiary never did fit that description.

According to a February 2001 report in the Wall Street Journal, “Halliburton Products & Services Ltd. works behind an unmarked door on the ninth floor of a new north Tehran tower block. A brochure declares that the company was registered in 1975 in the Cayman Islands, is based in the Persian Gulf sheikdom of Dubai and is non-American. But, like the sign over the receptionist's head, the brochure bears the company's name and red emblem, and offers services from Halliburton units around the world.”

Sunday, August 07, 2005

The Seattle Times: Nation & World: Unafraid to blow the whistle

By Deborah Hastings
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — In the world as Bunnatine Greenhouse sees it, people do the right thing. They stand up for the greater good, and they speak up when things go wrong. She believes God has a purpose for each life, and she prays every day for that purpose to be made evident.

She is praying her heart out these days, because she is in a great deal of trouble.

Bunnatine "Bunny" Greenhouse is the Principal Assistant Responsible for Contracting ("PARC" in the alphabet soup of military acronyms) in the Army Corps of Engineers. Lest the title fool, she is responsible for awarding billions upon billions in taxpayers' money to private companies hired to resurrect war-torn Iraq and to feed, clothe, shelter and do the laundry of American troops stationed there.

She has rained a mighty storm upon herself for standing up, before members of Congress and live on C-SPAN, to proclaim things are just not right in this staggeringly profitable business.

She has asked many questions: Why is Halliburton — a giant Texas firm that holds more than 50 percent of all rebuilding efforts in Iraq — receiving billions in contracts without competitive bidding? Do the duration of those contracts make sense? Have there been violations of federal laws regulating how the government can spend its money?

Halliburton denies wrongdoing. "These false allegations have been recycled in the media ad nauseam," the company said in response to a list of e-mailed questions from The Associated Press.

Bunny Greenhouse now may lose her job — and her reputation, which she spent a lifetime building.

She is a black woman in a world of mostly white men; a 60-year-old workaholic who abides neither fools nor frauds. But she is out of her element in this fight, her former boss said.

"What Bunny is caught up in is politics of the highest damn order," said retired Gen. Joe Ballard, who hired Greenhouse and headed the Corps until 2000. "This is real hardball they're playing here. Bunny is a procurement officer, she's not a politician. She's not trained to do this."

Stirring the pot

Greenhouse has known for a long time that her days may be numbered. Her needling of contracts awarded to Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root (KBR) predated the Iraq war, beginning with costs she said were spiraling "out of control" from a 2000 Bosnia contract to service U.S. troops. From 1995 to 2000, Halliburton's CEO was Dick Cheney, who left to run for vice president. He maintains his former company has not received preferential treatment.

She since had questioned both the amounts and the reasons for giving KBR tremendous contracts in the buildup to invading Iraq. She was ignored at first, she said. She then was cut out of the decision-making process.

On Oct. 6, she was summoned to the office of her boss. Maj. Gen. Robert Griffin, the Corps' deputy commander, was demoting her, he told her, taking away her Senior Executive Service status and sending her to midlevel management. Griffin declined to be interviewed.

Her performance was poor, according to a letter he presented. This was a surprise. Her previous job evaluations had been exemplary, she said.

If she didn't want the new position, she could retire with full benefits, the letter noted.

Over my dead body, Greenhouse said.

She has hired lawyer Michael Kohn. Two weeks after Greenhouse's trip to the woodshed, Kohn wrote a letter to the acting secretary of the Army, requesting an independent investigation of "improper action that favored KBR's interests."

The status of an independent investigation by the Defense Department is unclear. "As a matter of policy, we do not comment on open and ongoing investigations," said Lt. Col. Rose-Ann Lynch, a Pentagon spokeswoman.

Halliburton also is under federal investigation for alleged favoritism by the Bush administration. FBI agents questioned Greenhouse for nine hours in November about that probe. In March, a former employee was indicted for taking bribes while working for KBR in Iraq.

Company spokeswoman Melissa Norcross said KBR has "delivered vital services for U.S. troops and the Iraqi people at a fair and reasonable cost, given the circumstances."

Going after the big boys

When Ballard hired Greenhouse in 1997 she was overqualified — three master's degrees and more than 20 years of contracting experience in private industry and the military.

"She is probably the most professional person I've ever met," Ballard said.

Ballard used her, he said, to help him revolutionize the Corps — by ending the old-boys practice of awarding contracts to a favored few, and by imposing private-industry standards on a mammoth, 230-year-old government agency.

"The Corps is a tough organization. And I'll tell you, it's not easy to be a woman in this organization, and a black one at that," said Ballard, who was the first black leader of the Corps.

He is not optimistic about her future.

"I think you can put a fork in it," he said. "Her career is done."

At Corps headquarters, few speak to her, she said, and her bosses write down what she says at departmental meetings.

In a city where politics is everything, including blood sport, she refuses to play.

"I have never gone along to get along," she said.

Her contracting staff was reduced sharply, she said, and her superiors have gone behind her back, most notably in issuing an emergency waiver — on a day she was out of the office — that allowed KBR to ignore requests from Department of Defense auditors who issued a draft report in 2003 concluding KBR overcharged the government $61 million for fuel in Iraq.

The Army Corps of Engineers declined to comment on Greenhouse's complaints. "It's a personnel matter," Corps spokeswoman Carol Sanders said.

"They want me out," Greenhouse said.

A list of one

Greenhouse is mandated by Congress to find the best quality at the cheapest price from the most qualified supplier. Over her objections, KBR was awarded three multibillion-dollar contracts, two without competitive bidding.

Greenhouse's most strenuous complaints were over the Restore Iraqi Oil contract, estimated at $7 billion, originally planned to handle oil-field fires that might be started by Saddam Hussein's troops. When that didn't happen, it morphed into an agreement to repair oil fields and import fuel.

KBR was given the contract in March 2003. In Greenhouse's view, that process violated federal regulations concerning fair and open bidding. Halliburton denies that.

Later, she would tell Democratic members of Congress: "The abuse related to contracts awarded to KBR represents the most blatant and improper contract abuse I have ever witnessed during the course of my professional career."

At the Corps, Greenhouse said she was told KBR was the only qualified firm.

With the country on the brink of war, she reluctantly signed the RIO contract.

Greenhouse grew up in the segregated South. Her brother is Elvin Hayes, the Hall of Fame basketball player. She's a registered independent. Her husband, Aloyisus, is retired after a career as a senior Army procurement officer. They have three grown children.

No matter what, Bunny Greenhouse's faith still beams.

"I simply believe that we have callings and purposes in this life. I walk through this life for a purpose. I wake up every day for a purpose. And every day I say, 'Here I am. Send me.' "

Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Ex-Employees Faulted Halliburton Role in Iraq - from TBO.com

By Deborah Hastings The Associated Press
Published: Aug 6, 2005

WASHINGTON (AP) - Others besides Bunnatine Greenhouse have testified that Halliburton, the biggest holder of American rebuilding contracts in Iraq, has deceived the government and cheated taxpayers.
The company denies the claims.

Rory Mayberry, who worked for Halliburton subsidiary KBR from February through April 2004, testified from Iraq, via videotape, to the Democratic Policy Committee in June.

As a food manager at a U.S. military camp, Mayberry said he witnessed KBR employees serving spoiled food to American troops, including items whose expiration date was more than a year old, and food from trucks that had been bombed and shot at. "We were told to go into the trucks and remove the food items and use them after removing the bullets and any shrapnel," Mayberry said.

Halliburton also charged the U.S. government for hundreds of specialty meals prepared for foreign workers from Turkey and the Philippines, Mayberry said. The foreign workers were actually given leftovers from troop meals, Mayberry said.

KBR managers told employees not to speak with government auditors who arrived at the camp, Mayberry said, saying he ignored those orders. As punishment, he said, he was sent to Fallujah for three weeks, where there was heavy fighting. "The employees that talked to the auditors were moved to other bases that were under fire," Mayberry told the committee.

Its members expressed outrage.

"There obviously is no honor by a company that would serve outdated food to American troops in Iraq, serving their country," said Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D. "The more I learn, the more I shake my head and wonder. Who on Earth is minding the store here?"

Halliburton spokeswoman Melissa Norcross said the claims were a "gross mischaracterization." KBR does not interfere with government auditors, she said. Food service is monitored by employees and invoices are not padded.

"The only thing that has been inflated is the political rhetoric," Norcross said.

In July 2004, former KBR logistics and subcontract planner Marie DeYoung testified before the House Committee on Government Reform. While working in Kuwait, she said, she was told by KBR managers to pay invoices to subcontractors without verifying their accuracy - because government auditors were only scrutinizing unpaid bills.

DeYoung said she also witnessed "significant waste and overpricing" for laundry and other services provided to troops. That included paying $100 per 15-pound bag of laundry in Iraq, a cost which was passed on to the government.

"Every dollar that is squandered because of waste, fraud, or abuse is a dollar we do not have for critical equipment and supplies for our troops," said DeYoung, who served more than 10 years in the military as a commander, a chaplain and an operations officer.

9news.com | News | Ex-employees faulted Halliburton role in Iraq

WASHINGTON (AP) - Others besides Bunnatine Greenhouse have testified that Halliburton, the biggest holder of American rebuilding contracts in Iraq, has deceived the government and cheated taxpayers.

The company denies the claims.

Rory Mayberry, who worked for Halliburton subsidiary KBR from February through April 2004, testified from Iraq, via videotape, to the Democratic Policy Committee in June.

As a food manager at a U.S. military camp, Mayberry said he witnessed KBR employees serving spoiled food to American troops, including items whose expiration date was more than a year old, and food from trucks that had been bombed and shot at. "We were told to go into the trucks and remove the food items and use them after removing the bullets and any shrapnel," Mayberry said.

Halliburton also charged the U.S. government for hundreds of specialty meals prepared for foreign workers from Turkey and the Philippines, Mayberry said. The foreign workers were actually given leftovers from troop meals, Mayberry said.

KBR managers told employees not to speak with government auditors who arrived at the camp, Mayberry said, saying he ignored those orders. As punishment, he said, he was sent to Fallujah for three weeks, where there was heavy fighting. "The employees that talked to the auditors were moved to other bases that were under fire," Mayberry told the committee.

Its members expressed outrage.

"There obviously is no honor by a company that would serve outdated food to American troops in Iraq, serving their country," said Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D. "The more I learn, the more I shake my head and wonder. Who on Earth is minding the store here?"

Halliburton spokeswoman Melissa Norcross said the claims were a "gross mischaracterization." KBR does not interfere with government auditors, she said. Food service is monitored by employees and invoices are not padded.

"The only thing that has been inflated is the political rhetoric," Norcross said.

In July 2004, former KBR logistics and subcontract planner Marie DeYoung testified before the House Committee on Government Reform. While working in Kuwait, she said, she was told by KBR managers to pay invoices to subcontractors without verifying their accuracy -- because government auditors were only scrutinizing unpaid bills.

DeYoung said she also witnessed "significant waste and overpricing" for laundry and other services provided to troops. That included paying $100 per 15-pound bag of laundry in Iraq, a cost which was passed on to the government.

"Every dollar that is squandered because of waste, fraud, or abuse is a dollar we do not have for critical equipment and supplies for our troops," said DeYoung, who served more than 10 years in the military as a commander, a chaplain and an operations officer.


Friday, August 05, 2005

Halliburton Secretly Doing Business with Key Member of Iran’s Nuclear Team

by Jason Leopold

August 5, 2005
GlobalResearch.ca


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Scandal-plagued Halliburton, the oil services company once headed by Vice President Dick was secretly working with one of Iran’s top nuclear scientists on natural gas related projects and, allegedly, selling the scientists’ oil company key components for a nuclear reactor, according to Halliburton sources with intimate knowledge of both companies’ business dealings.


Just last week a National Security Council report said Iran was a decade away from acquiring a nuclear bomb. That time frame could arguably have been significantly longer if Halliburton, which just reported a 284 percent increase in its fourth quarter profits due to its Iraq reconstruction contracts, was not actively providing the Iranian government with the financial means to build a nuclear weapon.


Now comes word that Halliburton, which has a long history of flouting U.S. law by conducting business with countries the Bush administration said has ties to terrorism, was working with Cyrus Nasseri, the vice chairman of Oriental Oil Kish, one of Iran’s largest private oil companies, on oil development projects in Tehran. Nasseri is also a key member of Iran’s nuclear development team.

“Nasseri, a senior Iranian diplomat negotiating with Europe over Iran's controversial nuclear program is at the heart of deals with US energy companies to develop the country's oil industry”, the Financial Times reported.


Nasseri was interrogated by Iranian authorities in late July for allegedly providing Halliburton with Iran’s nuclear secrets and accepting as much as $1 million in bribes from Halliburton, according to Iranian government officials.

It’s unclear whether Halliburton was privy to Iran’s nuclear activities. A company spokesperson did not return numerous calls for comment. A White House also did not return calls for comment.

Oriental Oil Kish dealings with Halliburton became public knowledge in January when the company announced that it had subcontracted parts of the South Pars natural gas drilling project to Halliburton Products and Services, a subsidiary of Dallas-based Halliburton that is registered in the Cayman Islands.

Following the announcement, Halliburton announced the South Pars gas field project in Tehran would be its last project in Iran. The BBC reported that Halliburton, which took in $30-$40 million from its Iranian operations in 2003, "was winding down its work due to a poor business environment."

In attempt to curtail other U.S. companies from engaging in business dealings with rogue nations, the Senate approved legislation July 26 that would penalize companies that continue to skirt U.S. law by setting up offshore subsidiaries as a way to legally conduct business in Libya, Iran and Syria, and avoid U.S. sanctions under International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA). The amendment, sponsored by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, is part of the Senate Defense Authorization bill.

"It prevents U.S. corporations from creating a shell company somewhere else in order to do business with rogue, terror-sponsoring nations such as Syria and Iran," Collins said in a statement.

"The bottom line is that if a U.S. company is evading sanctions to do business with one of these countries, they are helping to prop up countries that support terrorism - most often aimed against America," she said.

The law currently doesn’t prohibit foreign subsidiaries from conducting business with rogue nations provided that the subsidiaries are truly independent of the parent company.

But Halliburton’s Cayman Island subsidiary never did fit that description.


Halliburton first started doing business in Iran as early as 1995, while Vice President Cheney was chief executive of the company and in possible violation of U.S. sanctions. According to a February 2001 report in the Wall Street Journal, "Halliburton Products & Services Ltd. works behind an unmarked door on the ninth floor of a new north Tehran tower block. A brochure declares that the company was registered in 1975 in the Cayman Islands, is based in the Persian Gulf sheikdom of Dubai and is "non-American." But, like the sign over the receptionist's head, the brochure bears the company's name and red emblem, and offers services from Halliburton units around the world." Moreover, mail sent to the company’s offices in Tehran and the Cayman Islands is forwarded to the company’s Dallas headquarters.


Not surprisingly, in a letter drafted by trade groups representing corporate executives vehemently objected to the amendment saying it would lead to further hatred and perhaps incite terrorist attacks on the U.S and “greatly strain relations with the United States’ primary trading partners.”


"Extraterritorial measures irritate relations with the very nations the U.S. must secure cooperation from to promote multilateral strategies to fight terrorism and to address other areas of mutual concern," said a letter signed by the Coalition for Employment through Exports, Emergency Coalition for American Trade, National Foreign Trade Council, USA Engage, U.S. Council on International Business and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. "Foreign governments view U.S. efforts to dictate their foreign and commercial policy as violations of sovereignty, often leading them to adopt retaliatory measures more at odds with U.S. goals.”


Still, Collins’ amendment has some holes. As Washington Times columnist Frank Gaffney pointed out in a July 25 story, “the Collins amendment would seek to penalize individuals or entities who evade IEEPA sanctions — if they are "subject to the jurisdiction of the United States."


“This is merely a restatement of existing regulations. The problem with this formulation is that, in the process of purportedly closing one loophole, it would appear to create new ones. As Sen. Collins told the Senate: "Some truly independent foreign subsidiaries are incorporated under the laws of the country in which they do business and are subject to that country's laws, to that legal jurisdiction. There is a great deal of difference between a corporation set up in a day, without any real employees or assets, and one that has been in existence for many years and that gets purchased, in part, by a U.S. firm. It is a safe bet that every foreign subsidiary of a U.S. company doing business with terrorist states will claim it is one of the ones Sen. Collins would allow to continue enriching our enemies, not one prohibited from doing so.”


Going a step further, Dow Jones Newswires reported that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission sent letters in June to energy corporations demanding that the companies disclose in their security filings any business dealings with terrorist supporting nations.

“The letters have been sent by the SEC's Office of Global Security Risk, a special division that monitors companies with operations in Iran and other countries under U.S. sanctions, which were created by the U.S. Congress in 2004,” Dow Jones reported.

The move comes as investors have become increasingly concerned that they may be unwillingly supporting terrorist activity. In the case of Halliburton, the New York City Comptroller's office threatened in March 2003 to pull its $23 million investment in the company if Halliburton continued to conduct business with Iran.

The SEC letters are aimed at forcing corporations to disclose their profits from business dealings rogue nations. Oil companies, such as Devon Energy Corp., ConocoPhillips, Marathon Oil Corp. and Occidental Petroleum Corp. that currently conduct business with countries that sponsor terrorism, have not disclosed the profits received from terrorist countries in their most recent quarterly reports because the companies don’t consider the earnings “material.”

Devon Energy was until recently conducting business in Syria. The company just sold its stake in an oil field there. ConocoPhillips has a service contract with the Syrian Petroleum Co. that expires on Dec. 31.


Jason Leopold is the author of the explosive memoir, News Junkie, to be released in the spring of 2006 by Process/Feral House Books. Visit Leopold's website at www.jasonleopold.com for updates.



Thursday, August 04, 2005

Cayman Net News: Current News about the Cayman Islands in the Foreign Press

Iran’s top nuclear negotiator faces charges over ties to Halliburton’s Cayman subsidiary

TEHRAN, Iran: Iran Focus, 29 July 2005 – Iran’s judiciary has arrested several executives of a privately-owned oil drilling company over their dealings with the U.S.-based oil giant Halliburton and one of the country’s top nuclear negotiators is facing charges of involvement in an oil scam, a semi-official news agency reported.

Fars News Agency said the chairman of the Board of Directors of Oriental Oil Kish, and several of his colleagues are being interrogated over the company’s trading. A senior member of Iran’s nuclear negotiations team, Sirus Nasseri, is the vice-chairman of the oil company.

Oriental Oil Kish first blipped on the international media’s radar screen in January, when it was announced that the company had subcontracted parts of the South Pars drilling project to Halliburton Products and Services registered in the Cayman Islands.

German executive arrested for tax evasion involving fictitious
Cayman transaction

NEW YORK, USA: Bloomberg News, 31 July 2005 – Ben Bartel, chief executive of AvCraft Aviation LLC, was arrested last week at the Frankfurt airport, Focus magazine reported. Munich's chief public prosecutor Ruediger Hoedl said his office is investigating whether Bartel evaded $8.49 million in taxes in Germany through a fictitious transaction in the Cayman Islands, the magazine said.

Veteran Israeli politician founded Cayman Islands venture capital entity

TEL AVIV, Israel: Israel Insider, 31 July 2005 – An Israeli official who may have a financial interest in the Disengagement is veteran Israeli politician Shimon Peres, who is currently Israel's deputy prime minister. Peres is the founder of something called the Peace Technology Fund, a venture capital entity chartered in the Cayman Islands, which had as its stated goal bringing together investors from around the world to promote development in the Palestinian “territories,” including Gaza.