A 51-year-old American has been charged in federal court with defrauding the co-founders and investors of a company out of approximately $175,000, relating to proposed investments in Iraq.
Prosecutors in Connecticut assert that Joseph T. Morris claimed to have extensive military and business experience in Iraq, and was the company’s in-country manager in Iraq.
According to the Wilton Bulletin, the company’s initial focus was on establishing a pizza restaurant at the U.S. consulate compound in Erbil; it also proposed establishing a business to distribute and install specialty window film on vehicles and at hotels, homes and government buildings that would protect windows and windshields from blast and breakage, and provide heat retention, ultraviolet shielding, and privacy.
The indictment alleges that Mr. Morris used fraudulent emails and photographs, falsely representing that a lease had been signed to establish the pizzeria, that renovations were underway, and that progress was being made towards completing renovations and opening the restaurant.
He also falsely represented that the company had an exclusive arrangement with a specialty window film manufacturer to distribute and install the window film in all of Iraq.
As a result, more than a dozen investors put approximately $175,000 in the company. The indictment alleges that Mr. Morris used large sums of money for his personal use.
Shares in Afren plc have fallen by more than 30 percent on the London Stock Exchange on Thursday, following the announcement that the Board has temporarily suspended the CEO, Osman Shahenshah (pictured) and the COO, Shahid Ullah, pending the investigation of alleged “unauthorised payments”.
The company has operations at the Barda Rash, Ain Sifni, and Simrit blocks in Iraqi Kurdistan.
The company issued the following statement to the markets this morning:
“In the course of an independent review on the Board’s behalf by Willkie Farr & Gallagher (UK) LLP of the potential need for disclosure of certain previous transactions to the market, evidence has been identified of the receipt of unauthorised payments potentially for the benefit of the CEO and COO. These payments were not made by the Company. The investigation has not found any evidence that any other Board members were involved.
“No conclusive findings have yet been reached and the investigation is ongoing.
“Egbert Imomoh has agreed to become Executive Chairman and the Board has appointed Toby Hayward, currently Senior Independent Director, as Interim CEO while the investigation continues.
“Whilst the Board has no reason to believe that this will negatively affect the Company’s stated financial and operational position, the publication of the Company’s Half Year Results due on 4th August 2014 will be postponed. The company will announce in due course a new date for the half year results, which will be no later than the end of August.
“The Board has notified the relevant regulatory authorities that the review is taking place and will update the market as appropriate.”
A former contractor has been extradited from Iraq after six years on the run, making him the first person to be returned to the United States under the U.S.-Iraq extradition treaty of 1936.
Metin Atilan, 54, who has dual U.S. and Turkish citizenship, pleaded not guilty to fraud and conspiracy charges on Monday.
He is charged with conspiracy to engage in contract fraud, conspiracy to engage in wire fraud and wire fraud. If found guilty on all counts, he could be sentenced to 65 years in prison and fined more than $2 million.
By Harith Hasan for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.
A video of Mahmoud al-Hassan, an Iraqi member of parliament (MP) from the State of Law Coalition, talking to a group of farmers in the province of Diwaniyah has circulated in Iraqi media.
In the video, he is holding a stack of real estate title deeds and telling the farmers that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has sent him to give them plots of land in exchange for their votes in favor of his coalition in the elections. The video has triggered much controversy in Iraq, as its content constitutes several violations of the law.
Hassan is an MP and does not hold any executive position that allows him to distribute title deeds. Moreover, his actions are seen as political extortion, aimed at obtaining votes by using the state’s resources.
The Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) fined Hassan 50 million Iraqi dinars ($43,000) for violating the rules for electoral campaigns. Yet, some felt that this punishment was not sufficient and is not commensurate with the seriousness of the offense he committed.
They believe that the IHEC is being lenient with the prime minister’s allies. What is interesting is that Hassan had been a judge in one of the most critical Iraqi courts — the Supreme Iraqi Criminal Tribunal — which was supposed to make him more vigilant about observing laws.
This incident is further indication of the growing tendency among groups that have strong leverage in the executive branch to use the state’s resources and capabilities to achieve political advantage over their opponents. The State of Law Coalition has become increasingly dominant over many of the state’s departments, which facilitated the use of political patronage in gaining followers and votes in a similar way to that by the Kurdistan Democratic Party in Iraqi Kurdistan.
The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General (SRSG) Mr. Nickolay Mladenov (pictured) has reaffirmed UN support to Iraq in its fight against corruption.
This came at the opening session of the Baghdad Second International Forum on Stolen Assets Recovery, which was organized by the Integrity Commission.
“The UN is taking accountability, transparency and anti-corruption very seriously at both the international level and within the region,” Mr. Mladenov said.
“Corruption is a virus that plagues transitional societies. It hinders peace-building and state-building efforts, undermining trust in public institutions; it robs people of dignity and development, it deprives them of basic services. Corruption empowers organised crime, funds violence and terrorism” he said.
The Government of Iraq in partnership with the National Commission on Integrity and UNDP have recently launched a new initiative to recover stolen assets and increase cooperation with law enforcement authorities in other countries to detect, trace, confiscate and recover stolen assets.
“The entire UN family and UNDP will continue to stand by the people of Iraq and their Government in their fight against corruption,” Mladenov added.
This article was originally published by Niqash. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.
Karbala’s New Computer System to Prevent Bribery, Abuse and Burning of Official Documents
Authorities in the religious centre of Karbala are planning to computerize their records and start a database of all citizens’ information. They hope it will cut out bribery, long delays, staff abuse and prevent the need to burn millions of documents when they run out of storage.
The most crowded offices in the Iraqi city of Karbala are those occupied by bureaucrats working for the federal and local government: every day, hundreds of locals come here to register land sales, report births and deaths, register marriages and undertake many other similar tasks.
But it’s never easy. The Iraqi ID card, also known as the Civil Status Identification Card, is one of the most important documents an Iraqi can have. It contains a person’s date of birth, family members’ names and marital status. The card is re-issued at various times of a person’s life and every time it is, locals must re-apply.
There are usually delays: for example, a new born child may have to wait three months before it receives such a card and officially becomes an Iraqi. This is important because that is also how long it will take to get the baby’s name entered onto the family’s ration card; a form of social welfare, the ration card system started in the early 1990s after sanctions were imposed on Iraq and it allows card holders to claim a variety of household staples.
Every time a local has to go to a government department they will need to carry an array of documentation with them – things like a certificate of nationality, the ID card, a housing card and the ration card. Often photographs will also be required as are photocopies of the various aforementioned documents.
Interestingly enough – and perhaps somewhat ironically – once a local has applied for whatever they need, the papers are stored for a short time in the department’s offices. However, if they are no longer required, they are burnt.