Independent Contractor in Afghanistan Pleads Guilty for His Role in Offering $54,000 in Bribes to a U.S. Government Official
Earlier today at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, N.Y., Akbar Ahmad Sherzai, 49, of Centreville, Va., an independent contractor for a trucking company operating in Afghanistan that was responsible for delivering fuel to U.S. Army installations, pleaded guilty to his role in offering a U.S. Army serviceman $54,000 in bribes to falsify documents to reflect the successful delivery of fuel shipments that Army records indicate were never delivered. Sherzai faces a maximum of 15 years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Loretta E. Lynch made the announcement.
“The defendant sought to use deception, corruption and greed to enrich his company at the risk of jeopardizing the U.S. Army’s supply lines in Afghanistan,” said U.S. Attorney Lynch. “Attempts to corrupt American officials will not be tolerated, either at home or abroad.” U.S. Attorney Lynch extended her grateful appreciation to the Special Inspector General for the Afghanistan Reconstruction, Homeland Security Investigations and the FBI for their assistance in this case.
The U.S. Army regularly contracts with local Afghan trucking companies to transport U.S. military equipment, fuel, and other supplies throughout Afghanistan. To ensure the companies fulfilled these requests, the U.S. Army used transportation movement requests (TMRs), which, when properly completed, verified that the shipments were successfully completed before approving payments to the trucking companies.
In April 2013, Sherzai approached a U.S. military serviceman to discuss fuel delivery missions that had been classified by the U.S. Army as “no-shows,” meaning that the fuel had not been delivered. Sherzai offered the serviceman a bribe to falsify the TMRs to reflect successful deliveries so that Sherzai’s company would receive payment and avoid penalties for failed fuel deliveries. The serviceman, under the supervision of law enforcement, continued to meet with Sherzai to discuss payments for the falsification of records. On two separate occasions, Sherzai paid the serviceman bribes in cash on American military bases in Afghanistan. On another occasion, Sherzai arranged for the serviceman’s bribe to be transferred to the United States through a hawala, an informal money transfer system. In total, Sherzai paid the serviceman $54,000 in cash to falsify fourteen TMRs. Each “no show” delivery mission, absent the fraudulent TMRs, would have resulted in a fine of the company by the U.S. government of $75,000.
Sherzai was arrested on a criminal complaint on Sept. 24, 2013. The guilty plea proceeding was held before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert M. Levy.
The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorney Amir H. Toossi and Trial Attorney Daniel Butler of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.