The Corporate Chutzpah Award

Illustration: Mark Matcho

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When Houston-based Nabors Industries, the nation’s largest oil-rig com- pany, reincorporated in the island tax haven of Bermuda in 2001 and secured a $10 million tax break, it had no intention of forsaking the benefits of being a corporate U.S. citizen, just the costs.

Nabors owns a 33-ship fleet to service its rigs, which it has tried to register as all-American. Although the Jones Act of 1916 prohibits foreign-owned ships from doing business solely in U.S. waters, Nabors claims its ships don’t belong to the mail-drop parent company, but rather to its “American subsidiary.”

The company’s domestic competitors are crying foul — adding that they may soon have no choice but to follow Nabors offshore. A lobbyist for the Bermudan company dismissed its critics as “whiners.”

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