Cheney, Oil Co. Face Fraud Suit

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Cheney, Oil Co. Face Fraud Suit Wed Jul 10, 1:23 PM ET

By TIM REYNOLDS, Associated Press Writer

MIAMI (AP) - A legal watchdog group said Wednesday it was suing Vice President Dick Cheney ( news - web sites) and Halliburton Co., the oil services company he ran for five years, alleging fraudulent accounting practices at the company.

The lawsuit by Washington-based Judicial Watch alleges that the accounting fraud led to shareholder losses, claiming Halliburton overstated revenues by $445 million from 1999 through the end of 2001.

"Halliburton overstated profits that many American citizens relied upon. That's fraudulent security practices and it resulted in those Americans suffering huge losses," said Larry Klayman, chairman and general counsel of Judicial Watch.

Judicial Watch announced the lawsuit at a news conference and said it had been filed in U.S. District Court in Dallas. However, court officials in Dallas said Wednesday morning that the suit had not yet been received. Judicial Watch said later that the filing had been held up by a delivery problem.

Asked about the suit Wednesday morning, White House press secretary Ari Fleischer ( news - web sites) said he talked to the vice president's staff and "they believe the suit is without merit and that's where it stands."

Cheney was chairman and chief executive of the oil field-services giant from 1995 to 2000. Halliburton announced on May 28 that it received notice from the Securities and Exchange Commission ( news - web sites) that the commission was looking into Halliburton's accounting methods adopted in 1998 for reporting cost overruns on construction jobs.

The SEC has not filed any charges against Halliburton.

Judicial Watch alleges those accounting practices resulted in overvaluation of Halliburton's shares, deceiving investors.

"The claims in this lawsuit are untrue, unsupported and unfounded," Doug Foshee, Halliburton's chief financial officer, said in a statement issued by the company. "We are working diligently with the SEC to resolve its questions regarding the company's accounting procedures."

Foshee said the company has always followed generally accepted accounting principles.

The suit lists two shareholders as plaintiffs: Stephen S. Stephens of Indiana and Lyle and Deanna J. Lionbarger of New Mexico. It does not specify their hometowns or specify the number of shares they hold.

Klayman would not specify the amount of losses but called it "a lot. ... It will come out in the days and weeks ahead."

The suit names Cheney, Halliburton, and accounting firm Andersen Worldwide and Arthur Andersen LLP. Thirteen Halliburton board members and Terrence Edward Hatchett of Arthur Andersen, the accounting firm's former managing partner for North America, also are named in the suit.

Andersen spokesman Patrick Dorton declined to comment.

Judicial Watch, which describes itself as a nonpartisan group, has also sued for access to records of the Cheney-led energy task force that drafted the Bush administration's energy policy.

The suit against Cheney comes the day after President Bush ( news - web sites) called for tougher penalties to fight the corporate corruption that has engulfed several high-profile companies in recent months.

Bush himself has come under criticism for transactions he made while a director at Harken Energy Corp. a decade ago. He has denied any wrongdoing.

Judicial Watch filed dozens of lawsuits against the Clinton administration. The group's case for access to White House e-mails revealed that thousands of the messages escaped scrutiny during investigations of Monica Lewinsky, Democratic fund raising, the gathering of FBI ( news - web sites) files and others.

It also has been involved in a variety of other issues.

It alleged the GOP's House and Senate fund-raising committees illegally sold access to public officials by promising donors access to Bush administration officials. Federal election officials rejected the complaint.

Judicial Watch filed a $1.5 billion lawsuit in March on behalf of 14 Oklahoma City bombing survivors and victims' relatives, claiming Iraqi officials provided money and training to bombers Timothy McVeigh ( news - web sites) and Terry Nichols.

And it and the Cuban American National Foundation, a leading exile group, have campaigned for Fidel Castro ( news - web sites)'s indictment in the killing of four men whose small planes were shot down by Cuban fighter planes.

-- (everything you do @ comes. back to you), July 10, 2002

Answers

I hope that Dumbya's new laws about putting crooks in jail begin with this case.

-- (lock up @ bastard. #2), July 10, 2002.

So when are they going to press for the indictment of the American pilots who killed 4 Canadians in Afghanistan (disobeying orders to hold fire to do it, BTW)?

-- Tricia the Canuck (jayles@telusplanet.net), July 10, 2002.

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