U.S. Embassy Employee in Iraq Charged with Theft of Public Funds and Conflict of Interest
WASHINGTON – A foreign national employed at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, was charged today with theft of public money and acts affecting a personal financial interest in connection with $237,236 in U.S. Government funds, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride of the Eastern District of Virginia and Acting Assistant Director in Charge John G. Perren of the FBI Washington Field Office.
An indictment returned today by a federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia charges Osama Esam Saleem Ayesh, 36, with two counts of theft of public money and one count of acts affecting a personal financial interest, commonly known as a conflict of interest charge. Ayesh was arrested on Aug. 16, 2010, based on a criminal complaint charging him with one count of conflict of interest.
According to the indictment, Ayesh held the position of shipping and customs supervisor at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. Ayesh was responsible for preparing the necessary documents and logistical support for customs clearance and delivery of shipments coming into Iraq for the embassy and embassy officials and personnel. While Ayesh worked at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, his primary residence was in Amman, Jordan.
The indictment alleges that, between November 2008 and June 2010, Ayesh fraudulently caused $237,236 in U.S. Government funds, intended for the payment of services provided to the U.S. Embassy pursuant to two Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs), to be sent to a bank account in Jordan that he controlled. The indictment further alleges that, between September 2008 and June 2010, Ayesh participated in the creation and operation of BPAs executed by the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, in which Ayesh knew that he and his wife had a financial interest. The indictment alleges that Ayesh also knew that he and his wife had a financial interest in the instigation of U.S. electronic funds transfers to pay for services rendered under those BPAs.
The theft of public funds counts each carry a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The conflict of interest charge carries a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The charges contained in the indictment are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent.
The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney David H. Laufman of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, on detail from the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, and by Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas H. McQuillan for the Eastern District of Virginia. The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs provided assistance. The case is being investigated by the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of State and the FBI, Washington Field Office, as part of the International Contract Corruption Task Force. The ICCTF is a joint law enforcement agency task force that seeks to detect, investigate, and dismantle corruption and contract fraud resulting from U.S. Overseas Contingency Operations worldwide, including in Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq.