A US construction company owner has been arrested in the state of Virginia on charges including bribery and fraud involving contracts worth around £100m.
Sina Moayedi, 66, is the owner of Montage, Inc., a contractor that is mainly involved in worldwide government construction projects, including embassies, military posts and consulates. Since 2014, the company has predominantly worked for the US State Department.
According to the government’s allegations, Montage has carried out work worth $100m at six embassy or consulate projects in the past seven years, including in Ecuador, Spain, Sudan, the Czech Republic and Bermuda.
The first charge against the company is that it repeatedly misrepresented itself as a female- or minority-owned business in order to secure an advantage in the bidding process.
The second charge is that it operated a bribery scheme during "at least" 2016 and 2017. The claim is that Moayedi paid cash bribes to an official in the State Department’s Overseas Building Operations agency in exchange for confidential bidding information relating to a multimillion-dollar contract in Bermuda.
Specifically, prosecutors allege that Moayedi was told he could raise Montage’s bid by $300,000 and would still be the lowest bidder, and that he paid $60,000 to the informer.
The complaint says: "Shortly thereafter, Montage increased its bid by nearly $1m. In a letter accompanying the revised bid, Moayedi falsely represented to the State Department that Montage’s revised bid was attributable to "an arithmetic error in our estimate worksheets".Â Moayedi then paid … $60,000 in cash, in three separate payments, using two men as intermediaries."
Michael Speckhardt, the special agent in charge, said in a press statement: "As alleged, the defendant’s scheme to undermine the department’s procurement process for personal gain caught up with him today and he will now be held accountable. Â
"His alleged actions not only hurt other legitimate businesses competing for awards, but also damage the public’s trust in the effective and efficient utilisation of taxpayer money."
Moayedi now faces one count of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years. He also faces one count of bribery of a public official, which carries a maximum sentence of 15 years.
Image: Â©GCR, illustration by Denis Carrier