Ex-Army civilian faces bribery, other charges in contract-steering scheme

By COREY DICKSTEIN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: December 13, 2019

WASHINGTON – A former U.S. Army civilian once responsible for handling government contracts at Kuwait’s Camp Arifjan was arrested this week in the Philippines on bribery and other charges stemming from a scheme to steer contracts to a particular company and split profits, the Justice Department announced Thursday.

Ephraim Garcia, 62, faces one count of offering a bribe, one count of receiving illegal gratuities and one count of offering kickbacks, according to the indictment filed in December 2018 and unsealed Thursday. Garcia was arrested Tuesday in the Philippines where he had lived since 2016 following an investigation led by Army Criminal Investigative Command and the U.S. Defense Criminal Investigative Service, according to DOJ.

Federal prosecutors charge Garcia in 2015 while working in the Army Public Works Directorate in a position responsible for soliciting, awarding and managing government contracts at Camp Arifjan devised a scheme to steer contracts to a subcontracting company and split profits.

The indictment claims Garcia offered to pay an employee of a prime contractor to help steer contracts to Gulf Link Venture Company, a subcontractor owned by Gandhi Raj. Garcia also offered the prime contractor employee, who was not identified by the DOJ, a portion of proceeds collected after artificially inflating the price of contracts. Garcia and Raj were also to receive money in the scheme, prosecutors said.

Garcia and his immediate family members received some $170,000 in wire transfers over five years from Raj, other Gulf Link officials and another subcontractor bidding to work under the prime contractor, according to the DOJ.

Raj, 39, was also charged in the indictment with paying illegal gratuities to Garcia. He was living in Kuwait at the time of the scheme, and remains at large, according to DOJ. A website for Gulf Link Venture describes the company as a “prominent name in the construction business in the Middle East” for 21 years. The website lists U.S. Army Kuwait among its top clients.

Garcia will be extradited to the United States and will face charges in federal court.

Twitter: @CDicksteinDC

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