RALEIGH, North Carolina (AP) — An Afghan trucking company owner has been charged with giving soldiers bundles of $100 bills to obtain U.S. supply contracts as part of a multimillion-dollar corruption case, according to court documents.
A criminal complaint filed Dec. 23 in federal court in North Carolina charges Hikmatullah Shadman with conspiracy and bribery related to payments made to two soldiers in 2009.
The charges follow efforts by the Justice Department to freeze more than $63 million in bank accounts controlled by Shadman, with authorities alleging the money was fraudulently obtained from the government through inflated trucking contracts, according to a 2013 news release from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.
The criminal complaint said law enforcement agencies have been investigating corruption in the war effort in Afghanistan and have uncovered evidence that Shadman's company and others paid bribes to receive contracts despite charging more than competitors.
An American attorney who previously represented Shadman in the asset-freezing case didn't immediately return a message seeking comment on Tuesday. Shadman's current whereabouts were unclear.
The charges against Shadman were first reported by The Fayetteville Observer.
The complaint written by a North Carolina-based FBI agent said Shadman paid approximately $140,000 to Robert W. Green, then an Army staff sergeant. Green was able to ask for specific Afghan trucking companies in his role managing supply requests at Kandahar Air Field, authorities said.
Green told investigators that he asked for money after hearing Shadman had paid other soldiers, according to the complaint. A few days later, Green received a phone call asking him to visit the businessman's nearby compound where Shadman pulled a plastic bag containing a bundle of $100 bills from his clothing, investigators said. The complaint said Green received several such payments of between $30,000 and $50,000.
David A. Kline, at the time a first lieutenant and Green's superior, received about $50,000 in cash with the understanding that he would give work to Shadman's companies, the complaint said.
Green and Kline have both pleaded guilty to accepting bribes. Green was sentenced in September to 10 months in prison and one year of supervised release, according to court documents. Kline's sentencing hearing is scheduled for January.
Investigators say it was common at the time for the U.S. government to pay Afghan trucking companies to move fuel, food, water and other items. Units would ask for supplies through military logistics groups such as the Movement Control Team that included Kline and Green, and the requests would then be assigned to local companies.
The requests were supposed to be subject to a competitive bidding process, but that could be circumvented if the military designated a specific company.