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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The National Procurement Fraud Task Force strikes again

I have reported previously on actions taken by the National Procurement Fraud Task Force to weed out unscrupulous activities in US Federal government contracting.

Procurement systems must be accountable and policed to maintain their integrity. This post presents another article about other actions brought by the Task Force.

Two Military Officials, Two Contractors and Contracting Company Indicted for Alleged Roles in Bribery and Money Laundering Scheme Related to DOD Contract in Afghanistan
Two U.S. military officials deployed to Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, two Department of Defense (DOD) contractors and a contracting company were charged late yesterday for their roles in an alleged bribery and money laundering scheme related to the award of a DOD trucking services contract in Afghanistan, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Florence Nakakuni for the District of Hawaii.

An indictment is merely an allegation and each defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.

According to an indictment returned on June 8, 2010, in U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii, retired U.S. Army Sgt. Charles O. Finch, 44, of Hawaii, accepted a $50,000 bribe in the fall of 2004 to influence the award of a DOD trucking contract to AZ Corporation, an Afghan contracting company. The indictment alleges that the owners of AZ Corporation, brothers Assad John Ramin, 40, and Tahir Ramin, 32, both of Pennsylvania, offered the bribe to Finch. According to the indictment, the bribe was paid through the business account of Finch's roommate at Bagram, 1st Sgt. Gary M. Canteen, 41, of Delaware, to disguise the nature and source of the payment. Canteen allegedly passed on a portion of the funds to Finch. According to the indictment, shortly after the money was delivered to Canteen, Finch recommended the award of the contract to AZ Corporation, which was awarded the contract.

Finch was arrested this morning in Hawaii and is expected to make his initial appearance later today in U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii.

Each individual faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 or three times the value of the bribe for the bribery charge; a maximum of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 for the bribery conspiracy charge; and a maximum of 20 years in prison and a fine of $500,000 or twice the value of the laundered funds for each of the money laundering and money laundering conspiracy charges. AZ Corporation faces a fine of up to $500,000 for the bribery and conspiracy charges and $500,000 for the money laundering and money laundering conspiracy charges.

John Ramin, Tahir Ramin and AZ Corporation were also charged in August 2008 and June 2009 in the Northern District of Illinois with bribery, conspiracy to commit bribery and mail fraud related to the procurement and delivery of concrete bunkers and barriers at Bagram Airfield. John Ramin, Tahir Ramin and AZ Corporation are scheduled to begin trial on these charges on Aug. 16, 2010. Three former military officials have pleaded guilty in the Northern District of Illinois to receiving bribes from the Ramins and AZ Corporation.

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