Afghanistan Contractors Gone Wild
November 5, 2012
By: Lindsay Simmons
In March of this year two Whistleblowers filed a complaint against their employer, Jorge Scientific Corporation (Jorge), a company that received almost a billion dollars in federal contracts for covert operations performed in the Middle East, including the Army’s “Legacy” projects in Kabul and Qandahar Province – projects intended to help Afghanis provide their own security. According to the complaint (which was unsealed in August), Jorge used about $47 million of these government funds to engage in “outrageous violations of law and contract” – namely, illegal possession and use of grenades and firearms, possession and excessive consumption of alcohol and drugs, and fraud. The qui tam action is pending before Judge Emmet G. Sullivan in the D.C. District Court.
Not surprisingly, the complaint was sufficient catalyst to get the Government to look into this matter. Indeed a spokesman for the Army, the branch responsible for overseeing Jorge, told ABC News that the complaint sparked a criminal investigation. But this investigation is receiving new emphasis in the wake of a recently released video showing Jorge’s employees at parties featuring heavy alcohol consumption and narcotics use – contractor employees gone wild. Just this week Senator Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., asked the Army to investigate Jorge as well as other wartime police-training contractors. In a letter to Secretary of the Army, Senator McCaskill said she was alarmed by the video released last week, as well as the allegations in the related False Claims Act suit.
A statement released by the International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces Afghanistan said they are taking the allegations seriously but “are confident that our personnel conduct themselves in ways that makes our nation proud and we should not allow the actions of a few, if determined to be true, to detract from that fact." Click here to read the entire statement.
According to ABC News, Jorge has – not surprisingly – taken “decisive action to correct the unacceptable behavior of a limited number of employees,” and that those employees are no longer part of the company.
It looks like the Army’s Procurement Fraud Branch will be busy – including its Suspension and Debarment Official.
The Army’s Procurement Fraud Branch monitors and coordinates criminal, civil, contractual, and administrative remedies in cases of fraud or corruption within the Army. Suspension and debarment are administrative remedies the Army can impose to help make certain it only does business with responsible (honest and ethical) contractors – not contractors gone wild.
Lindsay Simmons is the attorney responsible for the content of this article.