Bechtel announces withdrawal from Iraq

US engineering, construction and project management giant, Bechtel Corp, which has been engaged in reconstruction projects in Iraq since 2003, has announced its intention to leave the country, owing to the failure of security for its employees.

The San-Francisco-based engineering giant was hired by the US government to execute US-funded projects worth $ 2.3 billion. At one point Bechtel had employed 40,000 workers, mostly local Iraqis. Till date it has lost 52 workers with another 49 injured during off-work hours.

Bechtel announced that it would not seek any more contracts in the country after its last contract expired last week. It says that it has completed all but two of the nearly 100 projects in Iraq.

Bechtel had been awarded engineering contracts to rebuild after the US-led invasion. It hass been involved in rebuilding Iraq's roads, bridges, water treatment plants, hospitals, and expanding Iraq's power grid.

The company has faced criticism for its alleged financial links to the bin Laden family, and the manner in which it received Iraqi rebuilding contracts after the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, with accusations of cronyism between the George W Bush administration and Bechtel having been made.

The privately held company with 2005 revenues of $18 billion, says it has executed over 22,000 projects in 140 countries since it started in 1898.