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U.S. charges UK national with bribery scheme to obtain Iraq contracts

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(Reuters) – An Iraqi-born British national has been criminally charged in New Jersey with involvement in a bribery scheme to obtain millions of dollars of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reconstruction contracts in Iraq, the U.S. 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 $1 million in bribes paid from 2007 to 2009 to a USACE employee deployed in Tikrit, Iraq.

Al-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.

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

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

A lawyer for Al-Mulla could not immediately be located.

The USACE employee, John Salama Markus of Nazareth, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty to fraud, money laundering and tax offenses 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 $2.7 million in 2013 to resolve Justice Department allegations it violated the federal False Claims Act by paying bribes to Salama Markus.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; editing by Richard Pullin

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