FEBRUARY 08, 2007
Three U.S. military officers have been indicted on bribery, money-laundering and conspiracy charges for running a scam that steered millions of dollars in Iraq reconstruction projects to a contractor in exchange for expensive cars, cash and jewelry.
The case marks the fifth in only a few months involving members of the U.S. military caught participating in some sort of corruption or fraud in Iraq. The others include an Army translator sentenced to prison for offering bribes to an Iraqi police official, two separate cases of Army officers in jail for accepting $50,000 in bribes from a contractor and a National Guard officer who pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges for embezzlement.
In this week’s case two civilians were also indictment, an American businessman in Romania who served as the middle man between the military officers and the contractor, and the husband of one of the military officers, who helped smuggle tens of thousands of dollars into the U.S.
As supervisors of funding and contracts for the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, the three U.S. Army officers had access to $26 billion and prosecutors say used the money as “their own personal ATM machines.” The defendants actually took bricks of stolen U.S. taxpayer cash and smuggled them out of Iraq and back into the country for their own use.
Their 25-count indictment, filed in a New Jersey federal court, is related to a broader investigation of an $8.6 million Iraq contract with a construction mogul who has admitted laundering at least $2 million stolen from Iraq reconstruction funds. The mogul bribed the military officers and accomplices to steer contracts his way.
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