- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 11, 2004

KUWAIT CITY — A group of lawmakers yesterday requested a parliamentary probe into charges of overcharging and profiteering in an Iraq fuel contract involving state-owned Kuwait Petroleum Corp. and the Kuwaiti supplier of a Halliburton subsidiary.

“We turned in the request signed by 23 members of parliament,” said lawmaker Mussallam al-Barrak, adding that many in the 50-seat legislature viewed the contract as an attempt to generate profit for a few people.

Auditors of the U.S. Department of Defense have found that Kellogg Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Houston-based Halliburton, may have overcharged by $61 million for deliveries of gasoline from Kuwait to Iraq from May through September. Their investigation is in progress.

The supplier, Altanmia Marketing Co., was found by the auditors to have charged more than twice what suppliers in Turkey had.

Mr. al-Barrak said the Kuwait Petroleum Corp. should have signed the contract directly with Kellogg Brown & Root, and that Altanmia should not even have been involved.

In their request for a probe, the legislators said Altanmia made $759,567 a day in net profits from providing Kellogg Brown & Root with 1,500 tons of fuel daily. State-owned Kuwait Petroleum Corp., the seller, made $386,910 a day from the contract, the lawmakers said in their request.

The legislators described the figures as “scary, if true,” and said they had worked them out from reports published in the United States.

Kuwait’s energy minister, Sheik Ahmed Fahd Al Ahmed Al Sabah, said Sunday that he has asked the nation’s top prosecutor to investigate the charges against Altanmia.

Halliburton, Vice President Dick Cheney’s former company, as well as the Army Corp of Engineers, which oversaw the fuel contract, said the higher price was justified by the dangers faced by fuel convoys and the need to head off Iraqi anger over gasoline shortages.

In the United States, Mr. Cheney’s connection to Halliburton has raised questions about the company’s contracts in Iraq, and the issue has become even more politicized in a presidential election year. Mr. Cheney was Halliburton’s chairman from 1995 to 2000.

Mr. al-Barrak said he expected more lawmakers to sign on in the coming days to the request for the probe. A simple majority vote would be required to approve the request, which is likely to come up for a vote when parliament readjourns Monday.

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