Ex-contractor for US forces in Afghanistan pleads guilty to multimillion-dollar bribery scheme
Stars and Stripes January 5, 2023
A former U.S. military contractor pleaded guilty this week to bribery and visa fraud in his management of millions of dollars worth of U.S.-funded reconstruction contracts in Afghanistan.
Orlando Clark, 57, of Smyrna, Ga., was accused of conspiring with an analyst at another American company in 2011 and 2012 to receive approximately $400,000 in bribes from an Afghan company, the Justice Department said in a statement Wednesday.
In exchange, Clark helped to secure lucrative federal reconstruction contracts. He faces up to 10 years in prison and is scheduled to be sentenced April 12.
To legitimize large wire transfers, Clark set up bank accounts for fake companies in Georgia and filed invoices for a phony car exporting business, court documents show.
He used the bribe money for personal gain, including the purchase of two BMWs, according to prosecutors.
In addition, Clark admitted to accepting an unspecified amount in bribes in exchange for more than 10 letters of recommendation for visas on behalf of Afghan nationals between 2015 and 2020.
He falsely claimed to have supervised the applicants’ work as translators and without supporting knowledge vouched that the Afghans did not pose a threat to national security.
Clark’s case is the latest in a series of investigations into contractor oversight in Afghanistan.
In 2021, a report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, or SIGAR, revealed a lack of oversight and accountability in the awarding of contracts during the 20-year-long U.S. war there in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Investigators found that contract work in Afghanistan frequently went unsupervised, leading to instances of waste, fraud and abuse, including construction of facilities that had to be repaired or completely rebuilt.