A man in California pleaded guilty in a scheme to bilk the Afghanistan government out of more than $100 million in a phony bid to build an electric grid.
Sayed Ismail Amiri a 38-year-old man from Granite Bay entered a plea in Los Angeles federal court for being convicted of wire fraud, the US attorney’s office said in a statement.
Amiri could face up to 20 years in Jail, following his sentence in August of this year.
Amiri’s Afghan company, Assist Consultants Incorporated (ACI) is involved in the scheme, a federal prosecutor told VOA.
In 2015 and 2016, Amiri and his company tried to win a contract funded by the US to build electric power substations in Afghanistan, he had submitted fake work history and phony supporting documents showing that the firm met the requirements of the contract, prosecutors said.
ACI in its proposal stated that the company had been a subcontractor on substations for a cement factory in Uganda and a textile company in Nigeria, VOA reported.
But findings indicated that ACI had never worked in Africa and that two companies mentioned does not exist.
The investigations continued following Afghanistan’s national power utility request for more documents to verify ACI’s activities and work history.
Amiri sent more false and altered documents, including photographs, false bank statements, and a purported letter from a Ugandan government official, the statement said.
After facing law enforcement at U.S Embassy Amiri withdrew the ACI bid for defrauding Afghanistan of more than $100 million.
“This criminal scheme literally spanned the globe – from Kabul to Africa to California – threatening one of the most important priorities of Afghanistan’s reconstruction – the electrification of a country with infrastructure devastated by decades of war,” John F. Sopko, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan stated.
“This case demonstrates the reach and doggedness of SIGAR criminal investigators, who are committed to bringing to justice anyone who seeks to gain from crimes against the American taxpayer”, he added.
Amiri, ACI’s owner had received over $250 million in US-funded contracts in Afghanistan since 2013, court documents indicated.