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Defense Contractor Can Seek Millions From Iraq

Rose Bouboushian – (Courthouse News) -  April 24, 2013 – Iraq may owe $24 million to a contractor that says it refurbished military vehicles and weapons, and collected scrap metal for the war-torn country, a federal judge ruled.

Wye Oak Technologies filed a federal complaint in 2009, claiming it had been hired five years earlier to work with top U.S. military officials, including then Lt. Gen. David Petraeus, to organize the effort to repair damaged military equipment.

Despite numerous meetings with Iraqi officials who promised payments, however, the three invoices Wye Oak submitted that year were ignored. Wye Oak said Iraq owes it roughly $24 million.

On a December 2004 trip to Baghdad to collect payment on the invoices, Wye Oak’s then president, Dale Stoffel, and another employee were assassinated. Wye Oak’s employees and contractors worked in the country until nonpayment forced them to stop in 2007.

Though both parties agree that the murders remain unsolved, Iraq maintains that the FBI has not linked Stoffel’s death to a known terrorist group or to the contract dispute. After taking over as president for his brother, David Stoffel allegedly received death threats.

On May 20, 2004, Stoffel was granted limited immunity from prosecution by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) in a whistleblower complaint. He gave investigators information regarding U.S. corruption in the Iraqi reconstruction effort that implicated Colonel Ronald W. Hirtle and Colonel Anthony B. Bell and SIGIR opened an investigation of these two officers, among others. In early May 2004, Col. Hirtle had signed a 10 million dollar contract with Lee Dynamics International, a company that raised investigators’ suspicions. Col. Bell was later implicated in the bribery case of Maj. John Cockerham. In his statement, Stoffel described thousands of dollars in payments being delivered to American contracting offices in pizza boxes, pizza delivery-style, and dead drop payoffs in paper sacks dropped off throughout the Green Zone. ~Wikipedia bio of Dale Stoffel

Though Wye Oak attempted mail service on Iraq in October 2009, no signed receipt was ever returned. Wye Oak then commenced service via diplomatic channels in December 2009.

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Funds for SIGIR, agency charged with oversight of Iraq reconstruction, set to expire in March

Ernesto Londoño – (The Washington Post) – January 19, 2013 – George Lee, a Kuwait-based U.S. defense contractor who was reaping millions as America’s quagmire in Iraq deepened, sent an e-mail to an Army major who awarded bids in Baghdad, warning her not to visit him.

“None of us want Uncle Sam, or anyone else, looking where they should not be looking,” he wrote in one of the trove of messages and intercepted phone calls that exposed the biggest fraud conspiracy from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

So far, 22 people have been indicted and $67 million has been recovered in that single scheme, which remains under investigation.

But the little-known agency that uncovered the scam is about to close its doors, even though Lee remains a fugitive and 91 additional criminal investigations into the disappearance of Iraq reconstruction funds remain unsolved. Read the remainder of this entry »

Justin W. Lee pleads guilty to charges relating to Iraq contracts

Former President of Lee Dynamics International Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy and Bribery Related to Department of Defense Contracts in Iraq

Jailbird by artist Kevin Hanna

(DoJ) – WASHINGTON – July 15, 2011 – The former president of Lee Dynamics International, a defense contractor providing services to the U.S. military in Iraq, pleaded guilty today to an indictment charging him with a scheme to bribe military officials in order to obtain government contracts, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division. 

Justin W. Lee, 33, a resident of Philadelphia, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Joel H. Slomsky in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery and four counts of bribery.  Lee and his father, George H. Lee Jr., were charged in an indictment unsealed on May 27, 2011, in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.  

Justin Lee admitted that he conspired with his father and others to bribe military contracting officers in order to obtain government contracts to support U.S. combat operations in Iraq.  According to court documents, Justin Lee provided things of value, including cash, airline tickets, meals, hotel stays, spa visits and jobs, which were valued at a total of more than $1.2 million, to public officials in return for official acts which helped him obtain lucrative Department of Defense contracts.  The contracts included multi-million dollar contracts for the storage of weapons at various warehouses in Iraq as well as bottled water. 

 “For Justin Lee and others, bribery was a way of doing business,” said Assistant Attorney General Breuer.  “He offered military officials vacations to Thailand and Europe, Rolex watches, cash, and even employment with their company, all in order to secure lucrative defense contracts.  Private contractors will not be allowed to win business by stacking the deck against the competition and, as this investigation shows, the military officials who participate in such fraudulent schemes will also be held to account.”  Read the remainder of this entry »

Long Path to Courtroom for War Contractor Accused of Bribery

T. Christian Miller
ProPublica, June 1, 2011

For proof that the wheels of justice turn slowly for private contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan, and sometimes bog down all together, look no further than the indictment [1] this week of George H. Lee, American businessman.

A federal grand jury indicted Lee on charges that he allegedly paid bribes to military officers to win contracts for his company, Lee Dynamics International. The company, a family affair that included Lee’s son, Justin W. Lee (also indicted this week), provided bottled water, food, living quarters, and all kinds of everyday items that form the backbone of a military logistical operation. George Lee also stands accused of setting up fake bank accounts, buying airplane tickets for contracting officials, and sending them on spa trips.

According to prosecutors, Lee’s wrongdoing began back in 2004 — almost seven years ago. Read the remainder of this entry »

Two more indictments unsealed in the Camp Arifjan bribery scandal

2 Americans Are Indicted in Iraq Contract Bribery

JACK HEALY – (NY Times) – BAGHDAD - May 30, 2011 - Two American businessmen have been charged with giving Army officers airline tickets, spa vacations and more than $1 million in bribes to secure multimillion-dollar contracts to supply the American military and help rebuild Iraq, according to court documents.

A federal indictment against the men, George H. Lee, and his son, Justin W. Lee, was unsealed on Friday. Both are charged with four counts of bribery and one count of conspiracy.

The Lees are among nearly 60 contractors and military officers to face criminal charges stemming from the scramble for often poorly monitored government contracts in the early years of the Iraq war.

Federal officials have also blocked 120 people and companies accused of fraud and corruption from doing business with the government. The Lees’ company, Lee Dynamics International, was suspended in July 2007.

Justin W. Lee was expected to appear in federal court in Philadelphia as early as Tuesday, and George H. Lee is believed to be at large outside the United States, possibly in Kuwait or Dubai. A lawyer who has represented the company did not return phone or e-mail messages on Monday.

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