91 count indictment for 3 former corporate officers at Laguna Construction Co. Iraq fraud
Former Officers of New Mexico-Based Defense Contractor Charged in Fraud and Money Laundering Schemes Related to Rebuilding Efforts in Iraq
Video news story about the investigation March 6, 2009 – Click HERE to view Part 2 – March 7, 2009
(FBI) – ALBUQUERQUE – March 2, 2012 – A federal grand jury has returned an indictment charging three former officers of a New Mexico-based defense contractor and four foreign nationals for their alleged roles in a fraud and money laundering scheme involving defense contracts for wartime rebuilding projects in Iraq, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales.
The 91-count indictment, which was returned on February 28, 2012 in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque, New Mexico, was publicly posted this morning. The indictment charges Neal Kasper, 62, of Cibolo, Texas; Bradley G. Christiansen, 46, of Albuquerque, New Mexico; and Tiffany White, 45, also of Cibolo, Texas; with conspiracy to defraud the United States of more than $5 million through wire fraud. Ramzi Snobar and Yacoub Snobar, both citizens of Jordan; Mustapha Ahmad, a dual citizen of Lebanon and Great Britain; and Ali Al Aridhi, a citizen of Iraq (collectively, the Foreign Nationals), also are charged with participating in the wire fraud conspiracy. The seven defendants also are charged with an aggregate of 74 substantive wire fraud offenses. In addition, Bradley Christiansen and Ahmad are charged with offering and receiving illegal kickbacks. The indictment also charges Kasper, White, Bradley Christiansen, and his wife, Sara Christiansen, 46, of Albuquerque, with conspiracy to launder money and with 11 substantive money laundering offenses, and Bradley Christiansen with three counts of income tax evasion.
The American defendants are scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque at 9:30 a.m. on March 15, 2012 for arraignment on the indictment. The whereabouts of the Foreign Nationals is not currently known. The United States will seek to locate the Foreign Nationals and will initiate extradition proceedings if they are located.
According to the indictment, during the Iraqi war and continuing through 2011, the United States funded numerous construction and rebuilding projects in Iraq and Jordan, including contracts administered by the United States Air Force Center for Engineering and the Environment (AFCEE). Laguna Construction Company, Inc. (LCC), a minority disadvantaged business wholly owned by the Pueblo of Laguna, a Native American Indian Tribe located in New Mexico, successfully bid and was awarded multiple contracts, including AFCEE contracts, for wartime reconstruction and rebuilding projects in Iraq and Jordan. From 2003 through 2009, LCC administered more than $350 million of U.S. awarded Iraqi and Jordanian reconstruction contracts under a cost plus basis pursuant to which LCC received a percentage of the total contract awarded as compensation.
The indictment alleges that, as a prime contractor, LCC was required, to the greatest extent possible, to award subcontracts to foreign companies by generating requests for proposals and soliciting independent subcontract bids from qualified foreign companies. All subcontract bids were required to be independently prepared by the subcontractors without collusion from LCC, and LCC was required objectively to evaluate the bids and to award the subcontracts to the lowest qualified bidders. LCC and its personnel were prohibited from accepting anything of value, whether gifts, bribes, or kickbacks, from the bidders.
According to the indictment, at the time of the events alleged in the indictment, Kasper, Bradley Christiansen, and White were officers and employees of LCC, but not members of the Pueblo of Laguna. From January 2004 through February 2009, Kasper, Bradley Christiansen, and White allegedly colluded with the Foreign Nationals to defraud the United States of more than $5 million through the following unlawful scheme:
- The Foreign Nationals allegedly offered kickbacks to Kasper and Bradley Christiansen for the award of LCC subcontracts in Iraq.
- Kasper and Bradley Christiansen allegedly fraudulently eliminated bids submitted by foreign companies that were unwilling to pay kickbacks for the award of LCC subcontracts, and awarded the subcontracts to companies controlled by the Foreign Nationals.
- When preparing invoices, the Foreign Nationals allegedly overstated the actual costs incurred on LCC subcontracts in order to obtain excess funds to pay kickbacks.
- Kasper and Bradley Christiansen allegedly approved payment on invoices submitted by the Foreign Nationals that falsely overcharged the United States for costs not incurred.
- The Foreign Nationals allegedly paid kickbacks in the form of wire transfers of funds and the delivery of property to Kasper, Bradley Christiansen, and White in return for the award of LCC subcontracts in Iraq.
The indictment further alleges that, in addition to receiving the monetary kickbacks, in January 2008, Bradley Christiansen also received a 1967 Ford Shelby GT500D valued at $290,000 from Ahmad for facilitating the award of LCC subcontracts to Ahmad’s companies.
According to the indictment, from January 2004 through February 2009, Kasper, White, and Bradley and Sara Christiansen conspired to launder the illegal kickbacks they received from the Foreign Nationals to conceal the unlawful nature of the proceeds. The indictment alleges that Kasper, White, and the Christiansens attempted to conceal the nature of the illegal kickbacks by having funds wire-transferred into the bank accounts of relatives and companies controlled by the defendants; by accepting kickbacks in the form of personal property, including automobiles and cash; by using the kickbacks to acquire goods and to remodel residential real property.
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