By John Lee.
A US military contractor has won a judgment estimated at $140 million against Iraq to reimburse it for unpaid invoices relating to work done for the Iraqi Ministry of Defense.
Dale Stoffel, the President of Wye Oak Technology, was killed in mysterious circumstances fifteen years ago while attempting to recover the debt.
In its ruling, the District Court of the US District of Columbia said:
"Fifteen years ago, Wye Oak Technology, an American company, entered into the Broker Services Agreement (BSA) with the Iraqi Ministry of Defense (MoD) to play a key role in re-equipping the Iraqi military. Iraq urgently needed to rebuild its armed forces as the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) transferred sovereignty back to the Iraqi people and the interim Iraqi government prepared to hold its first parliamentary elections since the fall of Saddam Hussein.
"The BSA was set to be the central component of the Iraqi Military Equipment Recovery Project (IMERP). Under the BSA, Wye Oak was responsible for developing an inventory and assessing what military equipment was salvageable and what was scrap, providing military refurbishment services, arranging for scrap sales, and arranging for the sale of military equipment. Wye Oak began performing as soon as the BSA was effectuated.
"By October 2004, Wye Oak submitted three pro forma invoices to MoD for work in relation to the IMERP. But MoD never paid these invoices to Wye Oak. Instead, MoD paid a third-party, Raymond Zayna, the money owed to Wye Oak under the BSA. Nonetheless, Wye Oak continued to perform under the contract while desperately trying to extract the funds it was owed. And briefly, Wye Oak thought it succeeded. After months of performing vital activities as part of the IMERP despite not being paid, all issues seemed to be solved after a December 5, 2004 meeting. However, this was not the case.
"A few days later, Wye Oak’s president Dale Stoffel and his colleague Joe Wemple were brutally murdered on their way to arrange for funding to finally be released. Nonetheless, Wye Oak still did not immediately abandon the IMERP even after Dale Stoffel’s tragic death. Instead, Wye Oak exceeded the goal of producing a mechanized brigade of operational armored vehicles for Iraq’s January 2005 parliamentary election. Yet Wye Oak was never paid for the vital work it performed under the BSA.
"Now, more than fifteen years after Wye Oak entered into the BSA, and more than a decade after Wye Oak first filed suit, the Court finds MoD breached the BSA. And because MoD is an integral component of the national government itself, the Republic of Iraq is also liable for the breach. Ultimately, the Court will award Wye Oak damages for its three invoices, lost profits from construction, lost profits from refurbishing military equipment, and lost profits from scrap sales.
"Also, the Court will award Wye Oak prejudgment interest and costs, including reasonable attorney’s fees and expenses. "
According to Associated Press, a lawyer acting for Wye Oak estimates that the true judgment will total roughly $140 million.
(Sources: District Court of the US District of Columbia, Associated Press)