News headlines

Press Trust of India 
NEW YORK, Mar 12: Defence contractor Halliburton, which is accused by its detractors of overcharging the United States tax payers for its services in Iraq, is moving its corporate headquarters from Houston to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, angering many Americans.

Some analysts said it was moving to take advantage of favourable tax laws which would add to its bottom line. Last year, it eared $2.3 billion in profits.

But its CEO Dave Lesar said the Eastern hemisphere is a market that is more heavily weighted towards oil exploration and production opportunities. "And growing our business here will bring more balance to Halliburton's overall portfolio".

From his Dubai office, Lesar told the Wall Street Journal that he will be concentrating on building the Houston oil-services company business with national oil companies in Eastern hemisphere, including Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

But Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy called the company's move 'corporate greet at its worst'.

"This is an insult to the US soldiers and taxpayers who paid the tab for their no-bid contacts and endured their overcharges for all these years. At the same time, they'll be avoiding US taxes. I am sure they won't stop insisting on taking their profits in cold hard US cash," he was quoted by the ABC news as saying.

Another Democratic Representative Henry Waxman, who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which has investigated contractor fraud, is planning to hold a hearing.

"This is a surprising development," Waxman said. "I want to understand the ramifications for US taxpayers and national security."

His committee estimates that Halliburton, once headed by Vice President Cheney, has received contracts valued at an estimated $25.7 billion for its work in Iraq.

The company, media reports noted, was accused of serving spoiled food, exposing troops to contaminated water and failing to adequate protect its contactors.

Last month, the government's special inspector general for Iraq found Halliburton overcharged the US government $2.7 billion, a finding the company is still contesting.

The Journal said Halliburton's decision is another sign of shifting alignments in the global oil order.

While Houston remains the centre of the global Western oil trade, Dubai has grown in recent years as a rival, a hub for trade, investment and oil-patch deals, especially for national oil companies expanding outside their home turf.

Halliburton operates in 70 countries with about 45,000 employees.


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