Arrested US construction boss faces trial after army buildings collapse

The chief executive of an American construction company that built community and military facilities for the US Army in Africa has been indicted in California on charges that she committed fraud with elaborate efforts to fake quality control.

Many of the buildings constructed by the company Dover Vantage collapsed, including an aircraft hangar in Niger and a training facility in Senegal, prosecutors said, adding that most other structures built by the company were now unusable.

Micheline Pollock, 50, was arrested on 22 September in Tbilisi, Georgia, after a provisional arrest warrant was issued at the request of the US. She is currently in custody in Georgia, awaiting extradition proceedings.

A statement by the US attorney’s office for Southern California gives her place of residence as Dubai.

She faces 98 counts, including one of conspiracy to defraud the United States, 34 of wire fraud, and 63 of aggravated identity theft.

Dover Vantage undertook projects for the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and Navy Facilities Engineering Command between 2011 and 2018. The work included a maternity ward and a school for the deaf in Togo and a military aircraft hanger in Niger.

The US government claims that Pollock and others in the company submitted fraudulent quality-control plans that included the CVs of fictitious employees, certified quality controls that were never performed, and faked concrete strength tests.

Prosecutors allege the company made claims for construction that was never performed or did not meet requirements.

The statement said: "As a result of the fraudulent conduct, many of the structures constructed by Dover Vantage … collapsed, including the aircraft hangar in Niger and a training facility in Senegal.  Most of the other structures constructed by Dover Vantage are now unusable. Pollock’s conduct has required USACE to reissue contracts, repair damaged buildings and reduce operating capacity."

The case is the first involving the Africa Strike Force, an anti-corruption initiative based in Southern California.

"To protect the American and coalition warfighter, vigilance does not end at our borders," said U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer.

"Where our military goes, we go, whether to support and defend military construction dollars or those dollars spent to improve the lives of the communities we assist.

"To combat fraud, waste, and abuse, we’ve toiled in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Asia-Pacific, and now, through our participation in the Africa Strike Force, we turn our substantial attention to Africa. Corrupt fraudsters in Africa beware, the bright light of justice now shines directly on you."

Image: ©GCR, illustration by Denis Carrier

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  1. This is all very strange – how did they get such a massive contract awarded? If you search for the company on Bloomberg then it shows that it was founded in 2015 so how could they started projects in Africa in 2011? Is this a case of a much deeper issue i.e. corruption and malpractice in awarding contracts military contracts?

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