Halliburton accounting "out of the shadows"

By Geraldine Sealey
Published August 4, 2004 8:33PM (EDT)

President Bush likes to claim leadership in fighting corporate fraud, and the White House claims "the President has taken decisive action to combat corporate fraud and punish corporate wrongdoers." High on Bush's "aggressive agenda": "Moving corporate accounting out of the shadows."

Not a bad idea. The SEC shed some light on Halliburton's accounting practices when Dick Cheney was in charge, and it resulted in $7.5 million in fines:

"Halliburton, the beleaguered Texas oil services conglomerate, and its former comptroller have agreed to pay more than $7.5 million in fines for misleading accounting practices instituted when Vice President Dick Cheney directed the firm.

Cheney was not charged with any wrongdoing. Instead Halliburton's former comptroller, Robert Muchmore, took responsibility for the scheme, and the former chief financial officer, Gary Morris, was charged with negligence for his part. Muchmore agreed to pay the Securities and Exchange Commission a $50,000 fine, while Halliburton agreed to pay a $7.5 million fine for interfering with the investigation once it was launched in mid-2002.

'We go where the evidence leads us,' said Spencer C. Barasch, enforcement chief of the SEC's Fort Worth office, when asked why Cheney was not charged."

Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at Salon.com.

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