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 Pleads Guilty for Role in Stealing Fuel in Afghanistan

U.S. Army Sergeant Albert Kelly III, 28, of Fort Knox, Ky., pleaded guilty today to theft charges for his role in the theft of fuel at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Salerno in Afghanistan.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney David J. Hale of the Western District of Kentucky made the announcement.
The plea was entered in federal court in Louisville, Ky., before Magistrate Judge James D. Moyer of the Western District of Kentucky.   Kelly faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison when he is sentenced on May 22, 2014, by U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II.
According to court records, Kelly was a soldier in the United States Army and was assigned to FOB Salerno from January 2011 to January 2012.   For most of that time, Kelly served as a specialist, and his 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 downloaded at FOB Salerno and preparing and certifying documents that accounted for the fuel that was downloaded.
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 trucks would then be downloaded and the fuel stolen.   To conceal this diversion, he falsely certified that the diverted fuel was in fact delivered and downloaded at FOB Salerno.
In exchange for assisting the fuel theft, Kelly received approximately $57,000 from the Afghan trucking company for diverting approximately 25,000 gallons of fuel.   The loss to the government was approximately $100,000.
This case was investigated by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR).   The prosecution is being handled by Special Trial Attorney Mark H. Dubester, on detail to the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section from SIGAR, and Assistant United States Attorney Michael A. Bennett of the Western District of Kentucky.