On Tuesday, the Justice Department announced that Raman International Inc. pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery for its participation in a scheme to influence the awarding of DoD contracts at Camp Victory, Iraq. Under the terms of the plea agreement, Raman agreed to pay a criminal fine of $500,000, and to pay $327,192 in restitution to the DoD. Raman also agreed not to conduct business with the U.S. government for three years.
According to court documents, an unidentified U.S. Army Reserve major received money and other items, including a new Harley-Davidson motorcycle, through her mother in Oklahoma from former Raman employee, Elie Samir Chidiac, in return for conveying sensitive information and fraudulently awarding contracts to Raman. The Army officer forged documents to make it appear that Raman had performed services under the contracts, upon which Chidiac received payment from the DoD--almost $700,000 in total--and kicked some of it back to the officer. In January, Chidiac was indicted on two conspiracy counts and is currently a fugitive. Chidiac is accused of persuading the officer to cancel contracts with another vendor and award them to Raman.
The Justice Department's National Procurement Fraud Task Force, an anti-procurement fraud initiative created in October 2006, deserves credit for the bust. However, this case is mere chump change compared to other Iraq-related procurement fraud that has occurred or may still be occurring and involves billions of dollars. POGO hopes the Task Force also brings these perpetrators to justice.