US constructors indicted in Iraq kickback scheme
WASHINGTON - Three former US army engineers and two foreign contractors have been indicted for a kickback scheme connected to $50 million in building projects in Iraq, the Justice Department said Thursday.
"The defendants allegedly treated projects to secure safe access to fuel, electricity, education and medical treatment as opportunities for illegally amassing personal wealth," US attorney Paul Fishman said in a statement.
The indictment, unsealed on Thursday, charges the five men, an Egyptian-born US citizen, a US citizen residing in Panama and an Iraqi citizen -- all of whom were employed by the US Army Corps of Engineers -- as well as an Iraqi citizen and a British citizen working for a privately-owned construction company.
The alleged ringleader, Egyptian-born US citizen John Alfy Salama Markus, is accused of accepting around $4.2 million in bribes and kickbacks in connection with US Army Corps of Engineers contracts from July 2007 to June 2008.
Salama Markus "used his position to undermine the process of fair and open competition by soliciting bribes in exchange for confidential bidding information," Victor Lessoff of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) said.
Salama Markus was charged in October 2010 with bribery and money laundering, but was released on $500,000 bail and ordered to wear an electronic ankle bracelet. He is set to be arraigned on August 4.
The other four suspects remain at large, the Justice Department said.
The charges against Salama Markus carry up to 68 years in prison and several hundred thousand dollars worth of fines. The others face lesser charges.