Afghanistan

Shady Contractor Still Reaping Millions

Something is rotten in Afghanistan. Louis Berger Group, a contractor handling many important U.S. rebuilding projects in Afghanistan, is alleged to have cheated American taxpayers out of millions—yet it still winning big projects and making millions in the country. On July 31, 2006, an employee of Louis Berger Group handed federal investigators a bevy of evidence confirming the company was overbilling American taxpayers tens of millions of dollars. However, two months after the whistlebower’s claims, the U.S. Agency for International Development handed Louis Berger $1.4 billion in reconstruction contracts in Afghanistan. The decision to ignore the allegations and strengthen ties with Louis Berger is a tricky one since the Obama administration’s rebuilding efforts in Afghanistan are under increased scrutiny given the problems at home. “Fraudulent defense contractors need to be held accountable because they undermine our nation's interests both abroad and at home,” said Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK). Court documents reveal that the Justice Department is in negotiations with Louis Berger to “aid in preserving the company’s continuing eligibility to participate” in contracts abroad, including Afghanistan. “It's not just Louis Berger,” said Ashley Jackson, the head of policy in Afghanistan for Oxfam. “You routinely see these projects come in four or five times what it should cost.”