Dick Cheney- Corporate Criminal

U.S. Pressed Halliburton in Kuwaiti Deal

Wed Nov 10, 3:05 PM ET Top Stories - Reuters

By Sue Pleming

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. ambassador to Kuwait and other senior U.S. officials put pressure on Halliburton (NYSE:HAL - news) to award a contract to a Kuwaiti company suspected of overcharging to bring fuel into Iraq (news - web sites), according to State Department documents released on Wednesday.

The documents, portions of which were released by Democratic U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman (news, bio, voting record), also said the State Department received information in the summer of 2003 that Halliburton officials demanded kickbacks and solicited bribes from Altanmia Commercial Marketing Company of Kuwait.

Altanmia is at the center of an investigation into whether Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown and Root, or KBR, overcharged in 2003 for getting fuel into Iraq, which despite being oil-rich suffered a shortage of refined products.

A draft Pentagon (news - web sites) audit at the end of last year found evidence KBR might have overcharged by at least $61 million for bringing in fuel under its no-bid U.S. Army Corps of Engineers contract.

According to the documents, on Dec. 2, 2003, Richard Jones, the U.S. ambassador to Kuwait, sent an e-mail directing unidentified officials: "Tell KBR to get off their butts and conclude deals with Kuwait NOW! Tell them we want a deal done with Altanmia within 24 hours and don't take any excuses."

The e-mail added: "If Amb. Bremer hears that KBR is still dragging its feet, he will be livid," referring to the U.S. civilian administrator of Iraq, Paul Bremer.

The State Department did not immediately respond to questions about the documents and the department's Inspector General's office said it could not comment on them.


Halliburton has been a lightening rod of criticism by Democrats, who say the company is the U.S. military's biggest contractor in Iraq because of its ties to Vice President Dick Cheney (news - web sites), who ran the Texas-based company from 1995 to 2000.

Last month, just days before the U.S. presidential election, the Army Corps of Engineers top contracting official, Bunny Greenhouse, said deals given to Halliburton were the worst case of contracting abuse she had ever seen. Greenhouse is set to be interviewed by the FBI (news - web sites) about her allegations.

Waxman said more than 400 State Department documents provided to the House Committee on Government Reform, of which he is the ranking minority member, undermined claims Halliburton contracts were "awarded without political interference."

The California Democrat, one of the most vocal critics of Halliburton, asked Republican Rep. Tom Davis, chairman of the committee, for hearings into KBR's oil deals in Iraq.

One e-mail about an Aug. 4, 2003, meeting between U.S. Embassy officials in Kuwait and Altanmia, reported the Kuwaiti company's claim that coalition and KBR officers "are on the take; that they solicit bribes openly; that anyone visiting their seaside villas at the Kuwaiti Hilton who offers to provide services will be asked for a bribe."

In another "sensitive but unclassified" document, the wife of a senior KBR manager reportedly lost her diamond watch at the Kuwaiti Hilton, where most KBR staff were staying, and her husband demanded the hotel buy her another one.

The e-mail, sent by an unidentified U.S. official, said the KBR manager's wife was "enamored with her new timepiece," an expensive Cartier watch.

Halliburton did not immediately respond to questions about the latest documents but in the past has strongly denied wrongdoing, charging that claims of favoritism are politically motivated.

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