HOUSTON - Five people were arrested as hundreds
of protesters chanting "war profiteers" converged on Iraq contractor Halliburton Co.'s annual shareholder meeting on
The four men and one woman arrested were charged with
trespassing after they entered the downtown Houston hotel where
the meeting was being held and handcuffed themselves to
railings, a police spokeswoman said.
Protesters throw fake money around during a demonstration outside the Houston hotel where Halliburton Co. was holding its annual stockholders meeting Wednesday, May 19, 2004. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)
In a prepared statement, Halliburton said it respected the
rights of protesters to demonstrate, but said it would continue
its work in Iraq under the U.S. military contracts.
"Even if they don't have the facts right, they have a right
to speak up," Halliburton spokeswoman Wendy Hall said in the
Mounted police pushed back a group of about 30 protesters
who were trying to block traffic in front of Halliburton's
executive offices about two blocks from the hotel.
Halliburton's engineering and construction arm, KBR,
formerly known as Kellogg Brown & Root, is the U.S. military's
largest contractor in Iraq, with contracts that could
eventually be worth $18 billion.
In the past year, 35 KBR employees have been killed in Iraq
and another 100 wounded, Chief Executive and Chairman Dave
Lesar told shareholders, but the company would "stay the
course" of supporting the U.S. military in the field.
"Halliburton continues to be in a very unique position, I
believe probably the most scrutinized company in corporate
America today, and certainly a lightning rod for a number of
issues," Lesar told reporters after the meeting.
On Monday, military auditors said they would suspend $159.5
million in payments for food services billed by KBR because of
incomplete files and bills submitted by its subcontractors.
The Pentagon is also investigating whether KBR overcharged
for fuel brought into Iraq.
Protest organizers said the company had become a symbol of
the U.S. occupation in Iraq, and questioned its relationship
with its former chief executive, Vice President Dick Cheney.
"I think this is the worst example of cronyism. It sends a
terrible message around the world," Medea Benjamin, co-founder
of women's group Code Pink, told Reuters.
At the meeting, shareholders approved a proposal to allow
the company to increase its authorized common stock by 67
percent to 1 billion from 600 million. The company currently
has about 440 million shares outstanding.
Halliburton has not indicated whether it would issue new
shares, but said the measure would give it the flexibility to
issue or reserve common stock without calling a special
The proposal also authorized the issuance of 5 million
preferred shares. The company currently has no outstanding
A shareholder proposal sponsored by the United Association
S&P 500 Index Fund requiring the chief executive officer and
chairman positions be held by different people failed to gain
approval. Dave Lesar currently holds both titles.
Another proposal brought by New York City Police and Fire
Departments pension funds for the company to address financial
and reputational damage from its operations in Iran also failed
The company has said its Iranian operations did not harm
the company's reputation, and were run through a foreign
subsidiary and so did not violate a ban on U.S. companies
operating in states the U.S. government has designated as
"sponsors of terrorism."
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