WASHINGTON - Democratic lawmakers pressed Defense
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Friday for records that could shed
light on a draft audit that found Halliburton may have
overcharged the U.S. government by $61 million for fuel it
shipped into Iraq.
Halliburton, the Texas-based oil services company run by
Dick Cheney before he became vice president, refused to be
drawn into what it suggested was a growing political fight as
Democrats put pressure on the Bush administration over Iraqi
"We do not intend to debate these issues within the context
of a political campaign, for either party," said Halliburton
spokeswoman Wendy Hall.
A Kellogg, Brown and Root sign adorns the Halliburton corporate headquarters near downtown Houston, December 12, 2003. Last week the Pentagon said a draft audit found Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown and Root may have been overcharged $61 million by a Kuwaiti sub-contractor it chose to bring fuel into Iraq from Kuwait. (Tim Johnson/Reuters)
A preliminary Pentagon audit disclosed last week found
evidence that a Halliburton unit, Kellogg Brown and Root,
potentially overcharged by as much as $61 million through
September for gasoline imported from Kuwait under an Iraq
Rep. Henry Waxman of California and Rep. John Dingell of
Michigan, respectively the top Democrats on the House of
Representatives' Government Reform Committee and the Energy and
Commerce Committee, asked for detailed information about
subcontracts and bids by potential subcontractors.
They also sought records, by no later than Jan. 5, of
contacts between the Defense Department and Halliburton, and
between the Defense Department and the Kuwaiti Oil Ministry
relating to gasoline imports.
INTERNAL AUDIT DOCUMENTS
Halliburton was awarded a no-bid contract in March to
rebuild Iraq's oil industry. So far, it has billed the U.S.
government $2.26 billion for related services.
Halliburton denies any wrongdoing and Hall said "KBR
delivered fuel to Iraq at the best value, the best price and
the best terms."
Hall denied a suggestion by Sen. Joseph Lieberman of
Connecticut, a Democratic presidential contender, the company
had refused to turn over internal audit documents sought by the
Defense Contract Audit Agency, or DCAA.
A Dec. 10 letter in which the audit agency complained about
a purported lack of cooperation amounted to "old, outdated
information," Hall said in an e-mailed reply to Reuters.
"We are with the DCAA and we have updated and provided
materials to them following these numerous meetings" since the
Dec. 10 letter, she wrote.
Lieberman, in a letter to Rumsfeld on Thursday, quoted
Michael Thibault, DCAA deputy director, as saying Halliburton's
own auditors had warned the company of "serious problems" with
its fuel contracts with the U.S. government.
"The Halliburton auditors warned that the prices the
company was charging to import fuel from Kuwait were
excessive," Lieberman wrote.
Hall said all documents used for Halliburton's internal
"evaluation" had been provided to DCAA.
A Pentagon spokeswoman said DCAA auditors were reviewing
Halliburton's response to their draft audit.
© 2003 Reuters Ltd