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US charges British national with bribery scheme to obtain Iraq contracts

Shwan al-Mulla and co-conspirators allegedly paid out more than $1m in bribes to receive edge in USACE bidding process
Billions of dollars poured into Iraq after the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled President Saddam Hussein (AFP)

An Iraqi-born British national has been charged in New Jersey with involvement in a bribery scheme to obtain millions of dollars of US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) reconstruction contracts in Iraq, the US Department of Justice said on Wednesday.

The defendant, Shwan al-Mulla, and his co-conspirators allegedly received confidential information to get an edge in the bidding process for the contracts, in exchange for more than $1m in bribes paid from 2007 to 2009 to a USACE employee deployed in Tikrit, Iraq.

Mulla, 60, the former owner of Baghdad-based Iraqi Consultants & Construction Bureau (ICCB), was charged with seven counts of honest services wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit bribery.

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Each fraud count carries a maximum 20-year prison term, Reuters reported.

The charges were announced by Acting US Attorney Rachael Honig in New Jersey. Her office said Mulla is at large.

A lawyer for Mulla could not immediately be located.

The USACE employee, John Salama Markus of Nazareth, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty to fraud, money laundering and tax offences in 2012 and is serving a 13-year prison term.

Another co-conspirator, Ahmed Nouri, pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge in 2018 and has yet to be sentenced, Honig's office said.

ICCB paid $2.7m in 2013 to resolve Justice Department allegations that it violated the federal False Claims Act by paying bribes to Salama Markus.

Billions of dollars poured into Iraq after the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled President Saddam Hussein.

The US is estimated to have spent $60bn over nine years - some $15m a day - to rebuild the country, with around $25bn going to Iraq’s military.

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