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KBR Subcontractor Accused of Human Trafficking Continues to Win U.S. Contracts

The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) has just released an informative in depth report into the human trafficking offenses of a significant KBR Dining Facility (DFAC) subcontractor Najlaa International Catering Services. It was researched and written by David Isenberg and Nick Schwellenbach. David Isenberg has been an observer and commentator on private military and security contracting since its modern birth in the 1980s. He is the author of the book, Shadow Force: Private Security Contractors in Iraq (Praeger Security International). His blog The PMSC Observer is the leading online resource for news and current events pertaining to the subject of private military and security. David also writes at the Huffington Post. Nick Schwellenbach is Director of Investigations for The Project On Government Oversight (POGO).

This report is peppered with revealing internal KBR and Najlaa correspondence, expert analysis, reports and POGO’s own conclusions. Hmmm, I wonder what the DoD has to say about all this?

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Despite a “zero tolerance” policy on human trafficking, the U.S. continues to award contracts to a Kuwaiti company that has been implicated in abusing and confining its foreign workers, according to government and internal corporate documents released today by the Project On Government Oversight.

The company, Najlaa International Catering Services, a subcontractor of Houston-based KBR, appears to have suffered no repercussions for its role in luring hundreds of South Asian workers to Iraq in 2008 with promises of lucrative jobs only to turn around and warehouse at least 1,000 of them in dismal living conditions without work—or pay—for several months.

The documents show that despite on-the-ground KBR employees’ frustration and strongly worded communications to Najlaa about its conduct, KBR continued to award subcontracts to the company. The documents also suggest that Najlaa rehired former KBR employees who were terminated for what appear to be trafficking-in-persons violations.

“It is unconscionable that the U.S. government and KBR continue to reward a company that abuses, degrades and dehumanizes its workers,” POGO Executive Director Danielle Brian said. “Continuing to look the other way at Najlaa’s actions makes a joke of the U.S. policy on human trafficking.”

For more information and links to the documents, read “Documents Reveal Details of Alleged Labor Trafficking by KBR Subcontractor” on POGO’s blog.

Well done David Isenberg and Nich Schwellenbach. I look forward to hearing more from the “cache” of internal emails you have obtained!

Ms Sparky

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8 Comments

  1. Comment by Robin Petersen:

    Robin Patrick Petersen
    100 Robins W. Parkway #105
    Warner Robins, GA 31088
    (480) 993-5344
    April 30, 2011

    The Honorable Saxby Chambliss, U.S. Senator, Georgia
    300 Mulberry Street
    Suite 502
    Macon, GA 31201

    Subj: Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act – Boeing Fraud/Passport Confiscation

    Dear Senator Chambliss,

    I am writing this letter to follow up on my email I sent you on April 12, 2011 and to ask for your assistance in bringing attention to a matter involves a defense contractor who has violated my rights and the laws of our country. You have my written consent to investigate should you decide to help me.

    In January of 2009, I was employed by “The Boeing Company” (TBC) and its wholly owned subsidiary Boeing International Support Systems, Saudi Arabia (BISS) who have engaged in fraudulent and criminal activities (First) here in the United States and then again in the country of Saudi Arabia.

    The criminal activity I am referring to was (First) committed here in the United States and arises from fraudulent recruiting practices that BISS is conducting while operating as an unregistered business from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and in St. Louis, Missouri. The criminal activity overseas stems from fraudulent representations made by TBC management; fraudulent activities taking place within these companies operations; and the fact that Boeing/BISS management confiscated my U.S. Passport and did not returned it upon my written demand. I believe the confiscation of a U.S. Passport; not returning it upon demand; and holding a person in a foreign country for months against their will constitutes the criminal act of false imprisonment.

    During the time I was being held against my will I reported this incident to Boeing’s Ethics Department, Boeing’s CEO and to U.S. Department of State, but heard nothing back from them. On June 8th, 2009 (nearly four months of captivity) I was able to get out of Saudi Arabia with the assistance of a security officer who was working at the U.S. Consulate who demanded that Boeing/BISS return my passport. When I returned home to the United States, I reported this incident to the Phoenix FBI. Although, I provided the FBI with as much detail as I could they never took any action. I then contacted Senator John McCain who passed my complaint on to Senator Jon Kyl who then inquired on my behalf to find out why law enforcement (the FBI) failed to act. The U.S. Justice Department responded informing Senator Kyl that the FBI stated that they did not have jurisdiction in this matter. I strongly disagree with the statement that the FBI provided Senator Kyl because the criminal act of “Fraud” was in fact initiated here in the United States by a company (BISS) that according to its own attorneys has no legal right to be operating in this country. (They are not legally registered in the U.S. and are not paying U.S. Corporate income taxes) The U.S. Department of Justice without careful analysis appears to have failed to recognize or consider this fact. (Please find Senator Kyl’s letter to me dated October 29, 2010 and the response he received from the U.S. Department of Justice dated 07 Oct 2010)

    In May of 2010 I filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of Arizona alleging wrongdoing by TBC and BISS. TBC and BISS have filed motions to have my case dismissed against them based on improper forum selection. The court has granted their motion to dismiss, ruling improper forum selection while not taking in to account that I was defrauded by BISS (First) here in the United States and that BISS is operating illegally within the United States.

    1. Please find evidence enclosed and listed as (Exhibit A) that attorneys representing “The Boeing Company” (TBC) and Boeing International Support Systems (BISS) have provided a sworn affidavit from Yvette B. Kumi a Boeing Corporate paralegal who states ” the only jurisdiction in which BISS is authorized to do business is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

    2. Please find enclosed as (Exhibit B) a business card that I received from a Mr. Dan Nelson who clearly identifies himself as a Manager for International Support Systems – BISS and who states his operations are located at 6001 S. Air Depot, Oklahoma City, OK.

    3. Please find enclosed as (Exhibit C) an email from BISS Manager Daniel J. Nelson stationed and “Doing Business” in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. This email identifies that his supervisors are operating from St. Louis, Missouri.

    4. Please find enclosed (Exhibit D) a Boeing Company press release dated (Jan. 7, 2010) that indicates that the Boeing Company is making leadership changes to include Mr. Torbjorn Sjogren to be named Vice President of International Support Systems and Alsalam Aircraft Company. Mr. Sjogren lives and operates from St. Louis, Missouri.

    5. Please find enclosed correspondence from Boeing/BISS attorney Geoffrey M.T. Sturr that provides evidence that BISS/Alsalam has financial accounts (Citi Bank, NY) located here in the United States.

    6. Please find enclosed a copy of my attorney’s motion to vacate and file an amended claim against the Boeing Company and Boeing International Support Systems (BISS).

    Although Boeing attorney’s with all the power of their company have been able to twist the facts in their favor, please understand that it is my contention that “Fraud” took place (first) here in the United States. I should be allowed the right to litigate here in my own country and not forced to return to Saudi Arabia to obtain justice when that country subverts freedom, continues to violate the rights of others, and is listed by our own government as a Tier III violator whose legal system is unjust and subject to corruption.

    I would ask that you please conduct your own investigation, asking the Attorney General again why criminal activity such as “Fraud” that was committed by TBC/BISS in this country cannot be investigated by our own law enforcement officials (the FBI) and why the U.S. Justice Department has failed to provide due diligence in enforcing the laws of our country which are instituted to protect its Citizens from those who knowingly and willfully engage in criminal acts. I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you for taking the time to review the enclosed material.

    Sincerely,

    Robin Patrick Petersen

    Encl: Letter from Senator Kyl
    Exhibits “A” through “F”

    • Comment by Ms Sparky:

      I moved your comment to a more appropriate post that might get you more visibility. I need to ask if Boeing was a US Government contractor in Saudi Arabia at the time of your false imprisonment? Taking your passport and holding you against your will is considered human trafficking. As a major US Government contractor Boeing should know better than to pull a stunt like this. I recommend you hire another attorney and contact Senator McCain’s office again. Sit on his front steps if necessary until you get his undivided attention. The FBI should have followed up on this case no doubt about it.

      • Comment by Robin Petersen:

        Boeing International Support Systems (BISS) is wholly owned by “The Boeing Company (TBC).” It is my understanding that TBC and BISS have obtained authorization in the form of something called an “Export Authority” TA 1300-06A from the U.S. Department of State concerning export-controlled information and technology. To be honest I don’t know what BISS is…… except to say they are a scam of some sort and that they defrauded me and others. There are least 10 other U.S. Veterans/witnesses who know that TBC/BISS involved in the fraudulent activity and that this operation is in fact operating from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and St. Louis, Missouri. The head of this operation is a man by the name of Torbjorn Sjogren. He is the VP of BISS and has his office located in a suburb of St. Louis, MO. (Berkeley, MO) His office number is (314) 234-4657 (for those who might want to check) and he goes by the name of “Turbo” because people have difficulty pronouncing his name.

        The Boeing Company has provided an affidavit from their Legal Department that states “the only jurisdiction in which BISS is authorized to do business is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia”, yet they are operating in the United States. The Boeing Company (TBC) has tried to say that United States is the incorrect forum for a civil trial and that I should have to return to Saudi Arabia to litigate my claims.

        I disagree with the Boeing Attorneys because I was drawn to and responded to an employment advertisement that was posted on the Official Boeing Company Jobs Website in the fall of 2008. I was then fraudulently recruited by Boeing & BISS representatives operating here in the United States who claimed to have an operational C-130 Hercules Flight program in place in Saudi Arabia. (After arriving in Saudi Arabia it became clear that the flight program did not exist and that the entire operation was a scam, rot with criminal activity, which includes fraud, passport confiscation, false imprisonment, Human Trafficking.

        Although, I approached law enforcement officials (the Phoenix, AZ FBI) when I got back to the U.S. they took no action. I then contacted Senator’s McCain and Kyl asking for their assistance because I couldn’t believe my country, that I served until my retirement in 1999 would not take the time to investigate my allegations. This came even after I provided them with a list of witnesses. (U.S. Veterans)

        After contacting Senator McCain, he referred my complaint to Senator Kyl. Senator Kyl then received a letter from the Department of Justice / FBI stating “Based on the information your constituent provided, we are unable to identify any violation of federal law within the investigative jurisdiction of the FBI.”

        My civil lawsuit was then filed in May of 2010 and unfortunaltely, my attorney has not been successful in her representation. The case against TBC and BISS has been dismissed for improper forum selection. Apparently, the Judge in my case, did not review evidence I provided my attorney that proves that fraud was initiated by TBC and BISS here in the United States. (Establishing “Jurisdiction” in the U.S.) If it can be determined that my recruitment and hiring was the result of fraud the law would allow litigation in the United States.

        I believe that if my attorney would have provided specific and detailed facts proving that BISS is in fact operating fraudulently here in the United States and against their own policy (TBC sworn affidavit stating BISS is not authorized to business in the U.S.) the outcome may have been different.

        It is my intention now, to appeal to the American Public in support against those who defraud and abuse others, because as of today, my own government won’t help me, and I don’t know of any other way I can bring these people to justice. I have noted at least on this blog that other American Citizens have suffered at the hands of “Contractors,” who use tactics to avoid accountability for the crimes that they commit while enriching themselves and defrauding the American taxpayers.

        I would ask anyone who reads this “post” to please contact their state representatives and ask how is it possible that “The Boeing Company” and their wholly owned subsidiary, Boeing International Support Systems (BISS)can commit the crimes of Fraud/U.S. Passport Confiscation/False Imprisonment/Human Trafficking and not be held accountable for their crimes?

        Thank you,

        Robin Petersen

  2. Comment by Info Said:

    It’s a scam. Be careful…

  3. Comment by Info Said:

    My point being this is not Peterson that posted this as he has an active lawsuit….someone is trying to discredit him and the relevance of lawsuit. However, a Pilot being detained? Unless the suit has already been dismissed, I surmise this is either a bogus poster or if in fact Petterson, well it just would not make any sense…

    A lawsuit brought by Attorney Kissandra L. Tysman of the Tysman Law Firm, located in Mesa, Arizona was filed on May 7, 2010 in U.S. District Court, Phoenix, Arizona against “The Boeing Company” and it wholly owned subsidiary BISS. The lawsuit alleges that her client Mr. Robin Petersen, a pilot and former U.S. Navy Commander who became injured overseas while employed by Boeing/BISS was not allowed to return to the United States for medical treatment in that he had his U.S. passport confiscated; was held against his will; and was not provided with an “Exit Visa” in which to leave the country of Saudi Arabia. Mr. Petersen had made several written requests for the return of his passport to “The Boeing Company” Operations Manager, in Saudi Arabia, Mr. Shaun A. Ford, and also contacted Mr. W. James McNerney, Jr., “The Boeing Company” CEO by Federal Express letter, detailing the fraudulent activity, unethical business practices, and violations of human rights that he had observed and experienced while employed by Boeing/BISS. Mr. McNerney never responded to Mr. Petersen’s concerns and request for help. The lawsuit also alleges that a number of other U.S. Veterans and Third Country National workers who were employed by Boeing/BISS in Saudi Arabia had their passports confiscated and were subject to inhumane treatment.
    Mr. Petersen made several attempts to get help from the U.S. Consulate located in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. He was finally helped by a consulate security official in June 2009, who then ordered Boeing/BISS company officials to return Mr. Petersen’s U.S. passport and provide him with the required “Exit Visa” in which to depart the country of Saudi Arabia. On June 8, 2009, and after six months without having the freedom to travel, Mr. Petersen was able to return to the United States to get the proper treatment he needed for his injury. The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court, Arizona, May 7, 2010 (case # 2:2010CV00999 Petersen v Boeing) and lists the following causes of action:
    Count 1, Confiscation of U.S. Passports
    Count 2, Violations of RICO statutes
    Count 3, False imprisonment
    Count 4, Breach of Contract
    Count 5, Fraud
    Count 6, Intentional Inflection of emotional distress
    Count 7, Failure to pay wages
    Although this lawsuit has been filed in the United States, it is important to know that there is an effort on the part of several worldwide organizations to hold executives of companies such as Mr. McNerney, CEO of “The Boeing Company” criminally responsible for willfully aiding and abetting their business partners who engage in human rights violations.

    • Comment by Info Said:

      Being an active lawsuit there is no need for a U.S. Senator’s involvement, see. Otherwise their influence or comments would be deemed prejudicial and an undue influence to the case, thus invalidated and causing a possible jury nullification. No defense attorney would permit his/her client to do something so foolish (yes I have some experience as it comes to litigation.)

      Also make mention the discrepancy in phone numbers and I just confirmed the address for the Warner Robbins location and no Mr. Petersen resides at the location for the address provided, yet the phone number is for AZ. If you can say bogus, delete this posting from “Robin”

  4. Ping from » Hearing: Are Government Contractors Exploiting Workers Overseas? or Does the end justify the means? Ms Sparky:

    [...] Zone with no passports, money, food or water. Also, recently in the news Najlaa Catering, another KBR subcontractor was accused of warehousing SE Asian workers in unsanitary inhumane conditions in Iraq for months with no [...]

  5. Comment by Robin P Petersen:

    Dear Ms. Sparky,

    Below is an e-mail that I received from the DOJ on 16 MAY 2013, concerning U.S. Passport Confiscation / Trafficking in Persons. Although I have provided specific evidence concerning Boeing and its subsidiaries criminal acts the DOJ/FBI claim they don’t have sufficient details or evidence. According to President Obama’s Executive Order 16327 any allegation involving Trafficking in Persons or fraudulent recruiting practices is sufficient.

    From: Criminal.Division@usdoj.gov
    To: [email removed]
    Subject: RE: Petersen, Robin
    Date: Thu, 16 May 2013 15:19:40 +0000

    Dear Mr. Petersen,

    Thank you for writing the Criminal Division requesting an investigation. We have been asked to respond on the division’s behalf.

    The Department of Justice, after reviewing your correspondence, has determined that the issues as presented do not provide sufficient details or evidence to warrant action by this office. From the information that you have provided, it appears that your concerns have already been submitted to the proper authorities. Consequently, we are unable to assist you at this time.

    Again, thank you for writing the Criminal Division. We regret that we cannot be of further assistance.

    Sincerely,

    Correspondence Management Staff
    Office of Administration

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