November 27, 2006, - 11:46 am
By Debbie Schlussel
Shame on Ford Motor Company. The auto company–in an economic nadir and possibly soon to be bankrupt–is slashing American jobs left and right. And, yet, it has “business operations” in terror-host states Syria, Iran, and Sudan.
In a July letter released to the public Friday, the Securities and Exchange Commission asked Ford to provide information regarding its and its subsidiary, Mazda’s, operations in those three countries. The SEC asked whether Ford’s investments “constitute a material investment risk” for Ford shareholders.
Ford admitted doing about $50 million in business with Syria, Sudan, and Iran in 2005 alone. And Ford also had the chutzpah to claim that its involvement in Syria and Sudan does not violate U.S. trade sanctions because it claims that Mazda (of which Ford owns one-third) is a separate legal entity. Ford gives the same excuse for Land Rover, Volvo, and Jaguar, wholly-owned Ford subsidiaries which each have car dealerships in Syria.
Uh-huh. That’s the same excuse Dick Cheney used when, as CEO of Halliburton, he used its British subsidiary, Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR), to do business with Iran, Saddam’s Iraq, and Libya (where KBR built a steel pipeline 14 feet in diameter across Libya–wide enough for vehicles and troop movements and impervious to our satellites).
Ford claimed its operations in those countries are legal and not material to investors.
Oh, really? There are plenty of Ford shareholders who would beg to differ. Some of them might actually not want to help terrorists and provide them with transportation and jobs.
The Securities and Exchange Commission, in a letter to Ford dated July 5 but not released until Friday by the agency, said it appeared from Ford’s Web site and news media accounts that the company has operations in Sudan and Syria. It also said that Mazda Motor Corp., which is part-owned by Ford, has a presence in Iran and Syria.
“Your annual report does not include any information about these operations,” SEC Division of Corporation Finance Branch Chief David R. Humphrey said in the letter to Ford Chief Financial Officer Don Leclair.
The letter asks the company to describe its past, current and future operations in the countries and whether Ford believes contacts there “constitute a material investment risk for your security holders.”
Ford responded in a letter dated July 18 that it has one authorized dealership in Syria, which opened in May. Ford contended it is legally allowed to sell products in Syria that contain less than 10 percent of U.S.-originated content, and it legally can do business with Syrian nationals who are not government officials.
Treasury Department spokeswoman Molly Millerwise said there is no general prohibition on a U.S. company doing business in Syria. American companies cannot do business in Iran or Sudan unless licensed or exempted from economic sanctions, she said.
The letter noted that several U.S. government officials attended the grand opening of the Ford dealership in Syria, including representatives from the embassy in Damascus.
If trading with our enemies is what they mean by “Built Ford Tough,” apparently, Ford isn’t built too tough at all.
It doesn’t provide Americans any jobs when 90% of a Ford product in Syria is made by Syrians in Syria. And we’ll never beat terrorists if our corporations continue to go around the laws designed to stop them. They are the living embodiment of the V. I. Lenin pronouncement about us selling our enemies the rope on which to hang ourselves.
Kudos to the SEC’s David R. Humphrey for pressing Ford on this very important issue.
Tags: car dealerships, CEO, Chief Financial Officer, Damascus, David R. Humphrey, Debbie Schlussel Shame, Department of the Treasury, Dick Cheney, Don Leclair, Ford Motor, Ford Motor Company, Halliburton, Iraq, Islamic Republic of Iran, Jaguar, KBR, Kellogg Brown & Root, Land Rover, Libya, Mazda, Mazda Motor Corp., Molly Millerwise, news media, Pimp My Ride, SEC Division of Corporation Finance Branch Chief David R. Humphrey, Securities and Exchange Commission, spokeswoman, steel pipeline, Sudan, Syria, U.S. government, United States, USD, Volvo