HOUSTON — Halliburton, the world’s second largest oil-field services company and largest U.S. contractor operating in Iraq, announced on March 11 that it will move its corporate headquarters from Houston to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. Halliburton CEO David Lesar will relocate to Dubai as part of the move. Vice President Dick Cheney is the company’s former CEO.

The Senate Finance Committee made inquiries about a Halliburton subsidiary doing business in Iran in 2004. Ongoing investigations started in 2004 are probing whether Halliburton, among others, made illegal payments to win a contract to build a natural gas process plant in Nigeria. Outrageous scandals surround the company’s operations in Iraq and disastrous post-Katrina reconstruction at taxpayers’ expense.

Democrats and others are questioning whether the move will make it possible to avoid paying U.S. taxes. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) stated, “At the same time they’ll be avoiding U.S. taxes, I’m sure they won’t stop insisting on taking their profits in cold hard U.S. cash.”

The Halliburton Watch web site points out, “Halliburton is moving to UAE at a time when it is being investigated in the U.S. for bribery, bid rigging, defrauding the military and illegally profiting in Iran. It is currently in the process of divesting all of its ownership interest in the scandal-plagued KBR subsidiary, notorious for overcharging the military and serving contaminated food and water to the troops in Iraq.”

The United Arab Emirates has no extradition treaty with the U.S.

Dubai, a tax-free haven and energy industry boomtown, is reportedly excited over the announcement, while people in Houston are rather glum. Although the corporation denies there will be job losses in Houston, many are expecting significant jobs losses over the next few years.

Local pundits are speculating whether the move, which follows a number of other oil corporations moving to or opening offices in Dubai and elsewhere in the Middle East, is a harbinger of a coming economic decline in Houston.

phill2 @ houston.rr.com