US Contractors Indicted in Egypt Bid-Rigging
A giant US construction company and an affiliate have been indicted on charges of participating in a vast criminal conspiracy to cheat the US government out of tens of millions of dollars for Egyptian water projects undertaken as part of the 1978 Camp David Middle East peace accords, reported the New York Times on Saturday.
The indictment, filed in US District Court in Birmingham, Alabama, accuses Bill Harbert International, which is based there, and a foreign affiliate, Bilhar International Establishment, of participating in the scheme with several other companies.
Also charged were the former president of Bilhar, Elmore Roy Anderson, and Peter Schmidt, a former official with Philipp Holzmann AG of Frankfurt.
Philipp Holzmann pleaded guilty to a criminal complaint last year.
According to the indictment, the conspiracy lasted more than eight years and involved the rigging of contract bids submitted in the late 1980s and early 1990s to the Agency for International Development, which was financing Egyptian water projects that resulted from the 1978 Middle East peace accords, said the paper.
Contracts were supposed to be awarded through competitive bidding, but the companies subverted the process through bribes and kickbacks, fraudulent billings to the government and the laundering of cash through Swiss bank accounts, according to court records.
The conspirators included at least six international construction companies.
The companies were either American or US subsidiaries of European concerns, said the paper.
Bill Harbert and his brother John were founders of Harbert Construction Corporation in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1949. From highway and heavy construction, the company quickly expanded into pipeline, industrial and building construction, both within the United States and throughout the world – Albawaba.com