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Thursday, 30 May, 2002, 07:16 GMT 08:16 UK
Accounts probe at Cheney firm
Oil pipelines
Halliburton provides construction services to the oil industry
US oil services and engineering firm Halliburton is being investigated for its accounting practices when US Vice President Dick Cheney was at the helm.

Halliburton is the latest in a string of companies to come under fire for allegedly shielding their true financial position from investors and analysts.

Mr Cheney was chairman and chief executive of the company between 1995 and 2000 and the probe revolves around the firm's accounts in 1998.

The Enron scandal prompted the push to clean up corporate America when it emerged that the disgraced energy firm had been reporting highly misleading accounts.

Costs under scrutiny

The US financial watchdog has begun a preliminary investigation into Halliburton for its treatment of over-running costs on its construction projects.

Halliburton said it would cooperate fully with the inquiry, and documents are expected to be formally requested in the next few days.

The firm says it believes the way it had accounted for construction claims was in accordance with generally accepted practices.

The firm's chief financial officer, Doug Foshee, said he was not surprised by the probe given the current investigative environment, but thought the matter could be cleared up quickly.

Worried investors

Worries over the probe sent shares in the group 7.5% lower in early trading in New York on Wednesday, before recovering slightly to close down 3%.

The share price of a number of other companies including Dynegy, WorldCom and KMart have suffered a similar fate recently due to the threat of investigations.

Halliburton has also been embroiled in a controversy over asbestos exposure.

On Tuesday, it settled 30 pending lawsuits for millions of dollars in damage from people suffering with lung cancer.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Alison Gee
"People are questioning the ethics behind these accounting practices."
See also:

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