UK man charged with bribery over Iraqi reconstruction contracts

A UK national has been charged with wire fraud and conspiracy to commit bribery over his role in the awarding of millions of dollars of US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) reconstruction contracts in Iraq.

Shwan Al-Mulla, 60, has been indicted on seven counts of wire fraud and one of conspiracy to commit bribery and defraud the US government.

Al-Mulla, who remains at large, is the former owner of Iraqi Consultants & Construction Bureau (ICCB).

According to the indictment, he and his co-conspirators paid more than $1m in bribes to obtain confidential information on reconstruction contracts between 2007 and 2009.

The information is said to have been passed to them by John Alfy Salama Markus, a USACE employee stationed at Camp Speicher (pictured) in the northern Iraqi city of Tikrit.

According to the Department of Justice (DoJ), Salama Markus was involved in the review and award of reconstruction contracts. In exchange for over $1m in bribes, Salama Markus provided Al-Mulla and his conspirators with confidential USACE information concerning bids, independent government estimates, and the selection process, the DoJ alleges.

At one time, the DoJ says, Salama Markus visited ICCB’s office in Amman, Jordan, and received a bag containing $750,000 in cash.

Salama Markus pleaded guilty to fraud, money laundering and tax offences in 2012 and was given a 13-year prison term. Ahmed Nouri, an alleged co-conspirator of Al-Mulla, has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery and is awaiting sentencing.

The DoJ gave a number of examples of contracts that it alleges were fraudulently obtained.

One was a $6.2m contract to repair the Bayji Oil Refinery in March 2007, which it says ICCB won after paying Salama Markus a $350,000 bribe. According to the indictment, Salama Markus sent an email to Nouri telling him the price that ICCB should offer.

The wire fraud counts each carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The conspiracy to commit bribery and defraud the US government carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The charges were announced yesterday by Rachael Honig, an acting US attorney, in New Jersey.

The charges and allegations contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Image: US troops at Contingency Operating Base Speicher in Tikrit, where Salama Markus was stationed (Public Domain)

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