Former Employee of U.S. Government Contractor in Afghanistan Pleads Guilty to Accepting Kickbacks From Subcontractor

Monday, March 5, 2018

A former employee of a U.S. government contractor in Afghanistan pleaded guilty today to accepting illegal kickbacks from an Afghan subcontractor in return for his assistance in obtaining subcontracts on U.S. government contracts.

Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Byung J. Pak of the Northern District of Georgia; Special Agent in Charge John Khin of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service’s (DCIS) Southeast Field Office, Atlanta Resident Agency; Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) John F. Sopko; Director Frank Robey of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command’s (CID) Major Procurement Fraud Unit (MPFU); Special Agent in Charge David J. LeValley of the FBI Atlanta Resident Agency and Special Agent in Charge Wendell W. Palmer of Air Force Office of Special Investigations (OSI), made the announcement.

Christopher McCray, 55, of Jonesboro, Georgia and Chattanooga, Tennessee, pleaded guilty to one count of accepting illegal kickbacks before U.S. District Judge Mark H. Cohen of the Northern District of Georgia.  He is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Cohen on June 14 at 10:00 a.m. EST.  McCray was charged in an indictment filed on April 25, 2017 in the Northern District of Georgia with one count of conspiracy to accept kickbacks and 14 counts of accepting illegal kickbacks.

As part of his plea, McCray admitted that he was employed as the country manager for a subcontractor of an American company that was moving cargo for the Army and Air Force Exchange Service from Bagram Airfield to military bases through Afghanistan.  When the prime contractor needed McCray’s employer to take a much bigger role in the distribution, McCray had the chance to influence the choice of the necessary Afghan trucking company as a subcontractor to his employer.  McCray’s employer entered into a subcontract with an Afghan company but before the choice of the subcontractor was made, the Afghan trucking company secretly agreed to kick back to McCray 15 percent of the revenues it would receive on the contract, he admitted.  McCray thereafter remained as the only representative of his employer in Afghanistan for the duration of the subcontract and was responsible for checking the accuracy of the invoices submitted to McCray’s employer and the quality of the Afghan company’s work, all while secretly receiving the kickbacks, he admitted.

McCray received the secret payments from December 2012 to May 2014.  He and the Afghan trucking company also maintained a separate set of invoices, which showed the amounts charged to McCray’s employer and the amounts kept by the Afghan company and the amounts sent to McCray.  McCray was first paid in cash, then by wires sent to his bank in Atlanta and then by Western Union payments sent to his mother, who would deposit the funds, mostly in cash, into McCray’s bank accounts, he admitted.

DCIS, SIGAR, Army CID-MPFU, the FBI and Air Force OSI investigated this matter.  Trial Attorney James Gelber of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Pearce of the Northern District of Georgia are prosecuting the case.

Owner of Afghanistan Marble Mining Company Indicted for Defrauding U.S. Agency and Defaulting on a $15.8 M Loan

Friday, June 16, 2017

The former owner of a now-defunct marble mining company in Afghanistan was charged in an indictment unsealed today with allegedly defrauding the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), a U.S. government agency, and defaulting on a $15.8 million loan.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) John F. Sopko and Assistant Director in Charge Andrew W. Vale of the FBI’s Washington Field Office made the announcement.

Azam Doost, aka Adam Doost, Mohammad Azam Doost and Mohammad Azim (Doost), 39, most recently of Union City, California, was charged in an indictment filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia with three counts of major fraud against the United States, eight counts of wire fraud, four counts of false statements on loan applications or extensions and eight counts of money laundering. The indictment also has a forfeiture notice.

The indictment alleges that in February 2010, while working at his company, Equity Capital Mining LLC, Doost, along with his brother, obtained a $15.8 million loan from OPIC for the development, maintenance and operation of a marble mine in western Afghanistan. The loan proceeds were paid directly from OPIC to the alleged vendors who provided equipment for the mine, as reported to OPIC by Doost or his consultant. Doost was required to deal with these companies in arms-length transactions or, to the extent any transactions were other than at arms-length, he was required to report any affiliation he had with a vendor. Doost informed OPIC that he had no affiliation with any of the alleged vendors with whom he dealt, when in fact he allegedly had financial relationships with several of them. The indictment alleges that Doost’s business partner was listed with the bank for a number of these alleged vendors and, upon receipt of money from OPIC into the respective accounts, significant amounts of this money were then transferred from that respective account to companies and individuals with whom Doost was associated, or to pay debts Doost owed. Doost’s consultant allegedly received a commission of $444,000 for his alleged consulting services with the first of three disbursements from OPIC, and shortly after $40,000 was transferred from his account to a Doost company in California

The indictment further alleges that when the time came for Equity Capital Mining LLC to repay the loan to OPIC, Doost provided purported reasons to OPIC why it was not able to make those repayments at a time when Doost had control of sufficient funds to make those repayments. Doost and his brother failed to repay any of the principal on the OPIC loan, and only a limited amount of interest, and ultimately defaulted on the loan, the indictment alleges.

An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

SIGAR, with assistance from the FBI, investigated the case. Trial Attorney Daniel Butler of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section is prosecuting the case.

Army Soldier Sentenced for Facilitating Thefts of Fuel in Afghanistan

United States Army soldier Albert Kelly III of Fort Knox, Kentucky, was sentenced to serve 18 months in prison for his role in stealing fuel at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Salerno in Afghanistan.    In addition to his prison term, Kelly was sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $100,000 in restitution.
Acting Assistant Attorney General David O’Neil of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney David J. Hale of the Western District of Kentucky made the announcement after the sentence was imposed by Senior U.S. District Court Judge Charles R. Simpson III in the Western District of Kentucky.
According to court documents, from January 2011 to January 2012, Kelly was assigned to FOB Salerno, and for most of that time he served as a specialist.    Kelly’s duties included overseeing the delivery of fuel into FOB Salerno.  Typically, the fuel was brought into the base by Afghan trucking companies driven by Afghan nationals.    Kelly’s duties included verifying the amounts of the fuel that were delivered at FOB Salerno and preparing and certifying documents that accounted for the fuel that was delivered.
From in or about November 2011 through January 2012, Kelly diverted and permitted the diversion of fuel delivery trucks from FOB Salerno to other locations, where the diverted fuel would then be removed from the trucks and stolen.    To conceal this diversion, he falsely certified that the diverted fuel was in fact delivered at FOB Salerno.
Also according to court documents, in exchange for assisting in the theft of fuel as described, Kelly received approximately $57,000 from the Afghan trucking company.    He admitted the amount of fuel he permitted to be diverted amounted to approximately 25,000 gallons.    The United States Army paid approximately $4.00 per gallon for that fuel, and the loss to the government was approximately $100,000.
The case was investigated by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.    This case was handled by Special Trial Attorney Mark H. Dubester, on detail from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Bennett of the Western District of Kentucky.