Friday, November 25, 2005

Federal Times | Two charged with Iraq contracting abuses

The government has arrested a contractor and a former federal official on charges of corrupt contracting practices in Iraq.

An American businessman, Philip Bloom, is accused of conspiring with the official to rig the bids on more than $13 million in contracts that he won. He also allegedly paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts to the official and others to win contracts.

The official, Robert Stein, was comptroller and funding officer for the Coalition Provisional Authority in South Central Iraq in 2003 and 2004.

Bloom and Stein are charged with conspiring to commit money laundering and wire fraud in connection with a bribery and fraud scheme, the Justice Department said in a Nov. 17 announcement.

Bloom owned numerous construction and service companies doing business in Iraq. The case is before the U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia.

The Justice Department is weighing another possible criminal case related to Iraq contracting, according to a letter released Nov. 14 by Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D.

Justice is weighing claims by Bunnatine Greenhouse, principal assistant for contracting at the Army Corps of Engineers, of abuses in connection with a contract to Halliburton division Kellogg, Brown and Root, according to the letter to Dorgan from the Defense Department inspector general?s office.

A company spokeswoman, Melissa Norcross, said KBR ?continues to cooperate fully with the Justice Department?s investigation of certain issues pertaining to our work in Iraq? and said the company?s contracting practices are within bounds.