Collins, Lieberman Praise Special Iraq IG For Uncovering Serious Bribery Allegations

WASHINGTON – Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Susan Collins, R-Me., and Ranking Member Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., Friday expressed concern about allegations of large kickbacks paid to American officials for the award of contracts in Iraq. The Senators praised the Special Inspector General overseeing Iraq reconstruction for uncovering the alleged corruption.

The information uncovered by Special IG Stuart Bowen, appointed in 2003 to oversee $30 billion worth of taxpayer dollars for Iraqi reconstruction, have led to criminal charges against Robert J Stein, Jr. and Philip H. Bloom. Stein, the former Comptroller for the Coalition Provisional Authority in the South Central Region of Iraq, is accused of receiving substantial bribes and kickbacks in exchange for fraudulently awarding contracts. Bloom is accused of paying bribes and kickbacks of at least $200,000 per month to a number of officials of the Coalition Provisional Authority in order to obtain reconstruction contracts, according to press accounts.

Additional cases are expected resulting from Bowen’s work.

Collins said: These allegations of fraudulent use of taxpayer dollars are serious and troubling. I commend the hard work of the Special Inspector General for his hard work in uncovering cases of fraud and sending a strong signal that this type of activity will not be tolerated. This case is an example of why the SIRG is important and why Congress took the correct action by extending its authority.”

Lieberman said: “The facts alleged by the Department of Justice paint a disturbing picture of corruption among some officials of the Coalition Provisional Authority. I commend the Office of the Special Inspector General for its thorough auditing and investigative work and I am pleased Congress has recently enacted an extension for the office.”