Judicial Watch, a US group that investigates and prosecutes corruption by government officials, announced that it is filing a shareholders suit in Dallas, Texas against Vice President Dick Cheney and other directors of Halliburton, as well as Halliburton itself, for alleged fraudulent accounting practices which resulted in the overvaluation of the company’s shares, thereby deceiving investors and others.
The suit comes one day after President George W. Bush, who himself is enmeshed in allegations of insider trading when he was an executive, who sat on the audit committee of Harken Energy Company, announced a ‘plan’ to crack down on corporate fraud.
Ironically, says Judicial Watch, it would appear that the President’s rush to propose more regulation of private industry is intended to deflect attention away from his and his Vice President’s own alleged improper business practices. President Bush has maintained that he was cleared by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Others have countered that the head of the agency was then an appointee of his father, President George H.W.Bush.
According to Judicial Watch, President Clinton and the Democratic Party used a similar gambit when they were caught taking money illegally from foreign donors, including the Communist Chinese. Instead of prosecuting vigorously the Clintons and other guilty politicians, new campaign finance laws were proposed to deflect attention away from alleged crimes.
‘Whether it is the Enron, Arthur Andersen, Global Crossing, or now the Halliburton and Harken scandals, there is a dangerous intersection between politicians of all stripes, Democrat and Republican, attempting to feed at the trough of business greed. As is true of the Clinton scandals, the American people cannot look the other way just because the President and Vice President are allegedly involved. Indeed, Judicial Watch has already sued Democrat and Republican officials in the Enron and Global Crossing scandals. To look the other way for the Vice President would be to set a precedent that the Washington elite are above the law. This cannot be permitted if our democracy is to survive,’ stated Judicial Watch Chairman and General Counsel Larry Klayman.
In 1995 Halliburton was prosecuted and forced to plead guilty to trading with Libya, a terrorist state on the US watch list.
The news comes as the UK newspaper ‘The Guardian’ reports in today’s on-line edition that ABB, the Swedish-Swiss engineering group has sacked a handful of London managers who had tried to conceal losses.
The losses, which amounted to $30m (£19.5m) in 1999 and $10m in 2000 and caused an extra $25m charge last year, were run up and then hidden by an undisclosed number of managers in the group’s manufacturing and consumer industries division.