Arrest made in contract fraud that endangered troops
KABUL — Another suspect has been arrested in the case against fraudulent contractors in Afghanistan, in which U.S. and coalition troops were put at risk of bomb attacks in 2011 and 2012, the special inspector general for Afghanistan’s reconstruction said Saturday.
A subcontractor employee for the Afghan Mercury Construction Co. “was recently arrested by the Afghan Attorney General’s Office as a result of our joint efforts and the interviews of the AMCC officials,” said Alex Bronstein-Moffly, a public affairs specialist for the inspector general.
Bronstein-Moffly identified the suspect only as “Hamidullah.”
The case began after several U.S. servicemen were wounded and killed in Ghazni province, when a contractor failed to properly install culvert denial systems, which protect troops from planted roadside bombs.
“AMCC was one of the primary culvert denial system contractors in the Ghazni area who had falsified claims and were paid for the culvert systems that were never installed,” Bronstein-Moffly told Stars and Stripes. He said this included a culvert where an improvised explosive device killed two U.S. servicemen.
The contractor, Abdul Anas Sultani, and his company, AMCC, were reported to have improperly installed 122 culvert denial systems along a portion of Highway 1 between Ghazni City and the border of Wardak province.
The systems, which look like large grates or screens, are placed across the top of the culverts thus preventing the placement of IEDs by insurgents.
Instead of using concrete to anchor the grates above the culverts, they used spot welding, which is much less effective and made it easier for insurgents to tamper with them.
Sultani and his company then took fraudulent and misleading photos to prove the project had been completed, when no work had actually been done, Bronstein-Moffly said.
After a survey discovered the fraudulent work, SIGAR sent out a safety alert in October 2012, which initiated an “IED engagement zone” along a lengthy stretch of the highway.
Sultani was arrested Jan. 27 by local Afghan police authorities and is facing charges of fraud and negligent death. The most recent arrest of one of his subcontractors is part of the continuing investigation.
According to SIGAR’s most recent quarterly report for 2012, a total of 58 companies engaged in U.S.-funded reconstruction projects were suspended, 95 were proposed for debarment, and 46 debarments were finalized.