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The Axis of Corporate Evil




by Allan Uthman

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The White House talks tough about ‘rogue’ states that harbor and fund terrorists. Bush’s famous line, “You are either with us, or you are with the terrorists,” would seem to preclude doing business with such nations. “Money is the lifeblood of terrorist operations,” says our leader, but where does the money come from?

Well, a good chunk of it comes from us. According to a CBS news report, “Just about everyone with a 401(k) pension plan or mutual fund has money invested in companies that are doing business in so-called rogue states.”Roger Robinson, a Washington researcher who specializes in finding and monitoring such companies has identified over 400 widely held firms that do business with rogue states, over 200 in Iran alone. Altogether these companies send many billions of dollars in assets to the people we’re supposedly at war with.

New York City Comptroller William Thompson has found, in New York’s pension fund, three companies that invest in rogue countries: General Electric, Conoco-Phillips and, of course, Halliburton. The fund holds almost a billion dollars in stock in the companies, which are doing business in Iran and Syria.

This may come as a surprise to many of you, who may be inadvertent supporters of terrorism through your indirect investments. You probably thought that such business practices were illegal or something. Well, US law actually does prohibit such operations, but—surprise!—there’s a loophole. Apparently, the law doesn’t apply to offshore subsidiaries run by non-Americans.

Halliburton, for instance, runs an offshore subsidiary in the corporate-friendly Cayman Islands, called Halliburton Products and Services, Ltd., which currently does business with Iran. Vice President Dick Cheney was the CEO of Halliburton from 1995 until 2000, and was in charge of the company when the Iranian operations began. Halliburton Products and Services now peddles $40 million in oil field services to the Iran, enabling the so-called ‘Axis of Evil’ nation’s main revenue source.

If you went to the sunny Cayman Islands to check out Halliburton’s rogue subsidiary, you would find much less than you bargained for. In fact, Halliburton P & S, Ltd. has no offices whatsoever in the Caymans, and no employees at their given address. Any mail that comes in is simply forwarded to Halliburton’s real HQ in Houston, Texas.

This is against the law, period. The legal loophole that Halliburton is driving the proverbial Mack truck through specifies that the subsidiary in question must be totally independent of the US company. Halliburton told Thompson that the subsidiary is actually run from Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates. However, there the company shares office space with—you guessed it—Halliburton proper. Halliburton is mum on that subject, except to say that it is not breaking any laws, and has no intention of curtailing its Iranian business. .

Thompson filed a shareholder’s resolution to get Halliburton to “review and justify” its Iranian project before its shareholders a move the company asked the SEC to block. The SEC, for one brief, shining moment, did its job and ruled against Halliburton.

What happens in the case of GE, which does electrical work in Iran, and Conoco-Phillips, which runs a gas-production operation in Syria, remains to be seen. These companies also make no apologies for their work in these nations.

The message is clear: if you are not with us, or rich enough to make hefty donations to politicians, you are with the terrorists.

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