March 11, 2007 — -- The much-maligned defense contractor Halliburton is moving its corporate headquarters from Houston to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
"The Eastern hemisphere is a market that is more heavily weighted toward oil exploration and production opportunities," said CEO Dave Lesar at an energy conference in nearby Bahrain. "And growing our business here will bring more balance to Halliburton's overall portfolio."
The draw is obvious. Dubai's friendly tax laws will add to Halliburton's bottom line. Last year, it earned $2.3 billion in profits.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-N.H., called the company's move "corporate greed at its worst." He added, "This is an insult to the U.S. soldiers and taxpayers who paid the tab for their no-bid contracts and endured their overcharges for all these years. 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."
Fellow Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., 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," he said. "I want to understand the ramifications for U.S. taxpayers and national security."
Waxman's 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.