Oversight of U.S. military’s food suppliers called into question after fraud indictment
Executives from a company responsible for providing food and water for deployed U.S. troops in Afghanistan have been charged with defrauding the government and creating a fake construction site to overstate progress on an $8 billion contract, the Department of Justice said in a recently-filed indictment.
The allegations came four years after the company’s predecessor pleaded guilty to criminal charges that it fraudulently inflated prices for basic items it sold to the U.S. military. Both cases emphasized how the U.S. military has struggled to curb abuses of U.S. defense spending in America’s longest-running foreign war as the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan enters its 17th year, analysts said.
On November 27 the Justice Department charged Abdul Huda Farouki, Mazen Farouki and Salah Maarouf, three Virginia residents who worked with a Dubai-based company called Anham FZCO, with defrauding the U.S. military under an estimated $8 billion military supply contract.
The DOJ also accused them of laundering money, violating U.S. sanctions while shipping products through Iran, and photographing a fake construction scene to mislead contracting officers regarding their progress. The three individuals pleaded not guilty.
The lawsuit revived long-standing concerns over Anham’s stewardship of taxpayer dollars, and also raised questions about the government’s oversight of the Subsistence Prime Vendor — Afghanistan contract, known as SPV-A. The contract is seen as important to the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan because it ensures deployed U.S. troops have access to food, water and basic provisions. Servicing it is immensely challenging, however, because the contractor is required to build and maintain a distribution network in the middle of a war zone.
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