NEW YORK — An independent contractor in Afghanistan was sentenced to 48 months in prison, and three years of supervised release Thursday, for offering $54,000 in bribes to a U.S. government official. The sentence follows an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), U.S. Army’s Criminal Investigation Command, and the FBI.
Akbar Ahmad Sherzai, 50, of Centerville, Virginia, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery. Sherzai offered to bribe a U.S. Army serviceman to falsify documents to reflect the successful delivery of fuel shipments that Army records indicate were never delivered.
The U.S. Army regularly contracts with local Afghan trucking companies to transport U.S. military equipment, fuel, and other supplies throughout Afghanistan. To ensure the companies fulfilled these requests, the U.S. Army used transportation movement requests (TMRs), which, when properly completed, verified that the shipments were successfully completed before approving payments to the trucking companies.
In April 2013, Sherzai approached a U.S. military serviceman to discuss fuel delivery missions that had been classified by the U.S. Army as “no-shows,” meaning that the fuel had not been delivered. Sherzai offered the serviceman a bribe to falsify the TMRs to reflect successful deliveries so that Sherzai’s company would receive payment and avoid penalties for failed fuel deliveries. The serviceman, under the supervision of law enforcement, continued to meet with Sherzai to discuss payments for the falsification of records. On two separate occasions, Sherzai paid the serviceman bribes in cash on American military bases in Afghanistan. On another occasion, Sherzai arranged for the serviceman’s bribe to be transferred to the United States through a hawala, an informal money transfer system. In total, Sherzai paid the serviceman $54,000 in cash to falsify 14 TMRs. Each “no show” delivery mission, absent the fraudulent TMRs, would have resulted in a fine of the company by the U.S. government of $75,000.
Assistant U. S. Attorney Amir H. Toossi and Trial Attorney Daniel Butler of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section prosecuted the government’s case.