Military News

Friday, November 09, 2018

Two Employees of South Korean Conglomerate Charged with Defrauding U.S. Government in Army Base Construction

Two employees of SK Engineering & Construction Co., Ltd. (SK), a large multinational corporation based in the Republic of Korea (South Korea), were charged today with participating in a scheme to defraud the United States by submitting fraudulent subcontracts to conceal bribes and kickbacks paid to an American public official, in relation to U.S. Army construction contracts in South Korea.

Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant of the Western District of Tennessee, Special Agent in Charge Ray Park of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command (Army-CID) Pacific Fraud Field Office, Special Agent in Charge Stan Newell of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS), and Assistant Director in Charge Paul D. Delacourt of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office made the announcement.

Hyeong-won Lee, 58, and Dong-Guel Lee, 48, both citizens of South Korea and employees of  SK Engineering & Construction Co., Ltd. (SK), were charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and to commit wire fraud and obstruction of justice, and one count of major fraud against the United States.  Hyeong-won Lee was also charged with two counts of wire fraud and one count of money laundering conspiracy, and Dong-Guel Lee was charged with one count of witness tampering in relation to a wide-ranging bribery and fraud scheme from 2008 to 2017.  The defendants are not related.

“Hyeong-won Lee and Dong-Guel Lee allegedly submitted fraudulent construction subcontracts to disguise millions in kickback payments to a public official and then tried to cover their tracks,” said Assistant Attorney General Benczkowski.  “The Department of Justice is dedicated to protecting taxpayer dollars by safeguarding the integrity of government contracts and construction projects that support our U.S. military and civilian personnel, wherever they serve around the world.”

“Protecting the U.S. Treasury and the interests of the federal government abroad is a top priority of this office, and this indictment shows our commitment to hold foreign actors accountable for major fraud committed against the United States,” said U.S. Attorney Dunavant.

According to the indictment, the defendants, acting on behalf of SK, submitted fraudulent subcontracts to the U.S. Army as part of two construction contracts at Camp Humphreys, South Korea, worth hundreds of millions of dollars.  The indictment alleges that the defendants and their co-conspirators used these fraudulent subcontracts to launder millions of dollars in kickbacks for a U.S. public official who had steered two Camp Humphreys construction contracts to SK. 

The indictment also alleges that the defendants obstructed investigations into the scheme.  According to the indictment, Hyeong-won Lee ordered SK employees to destroy documents related to the fraudulent subcontract, and SK employees burned boxes of documents in order to prevent their use by investigators.  The indictment also alleges that Dong-Guel Lee, acting on SK’s behalf, impeded federal investigations by dissuading witnesses from testifying about their knowledge of the scheme.

Army-CID, DCIS, and the FBI are investigating the case.  Assistant Chief Justin Weitz of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Tony Arvin of the Western District of Tennessee are prosecuting the case.  The Fraud Section is grateful for the assistance of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section in this case.

The charges in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Thursday, November 08, 2018

Navy to Christen Expeditionary Fast Transport Puerto Rico

The Navy will christen its newest Expeditionary Fast Transport, the future USNS Puerto Rico (T-EPF 11), during a 10 a.m. CST ceremony Saturday, November 10, at the Austal USA shipyard in Mobile, Alabama.

The principal speaker is congresswoman Jenniffer González-Colón, Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States will serve as the ship’s sponsor. In a time-honored Navy tradition, she will christen the ship by breaking a bottle of sparkling wine across the bow.

“This ship honors the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the contributions Puerto Ricans have made to our nation and Navy and Marine Corps team,” said Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer.  “USNS Puerto Rico will provide our commanders high-speed sealift mobility and agility and I am thankful for this ship, her crew, and our industrial force teammates whose service makes this great ship possible."

The future USNS Puerto Rico, designated T-EPF 11, will be the first active ship in naval service to honor the island in the West Indies east of Hispaniola. An Alaska class cruiser named Puerto Rico (CB-5) was authorized July 19, 1940, but construction was cancelled June 24, 1943.

With an all-aluminum shallow-draft hull, the EPF is a commercial-based catamaran capable of intra-theater personnel and cargo lift providing combatant commanders high-speed sealift mobility with inherent cargo handling capability and agility to achieve positional advantage over operational distances.

EPF class ships are designed to transport 600 short tons of military cargo 1,200 nautical miles at an average speed of 35 knots. The ship is capable of operating in shallow-draft ports and waterways, interfacing with roll-on/roll-off discharge facilities, and on/off-loading a combat-loaded Abrams main battle tank (M1A2).

The EPF includes a flight deck for helicopter operations and an off-load ramp that will allow vehicles to quickly drive off the ship. EPF’s shallow draft (under 15 feet) further enhances littoral operations and port access. This makes the EPF an extremely flexible asset for support of a wide range of operations including maneuver and sustainment, relief operations in small or damaged ports, flexible logistics support, or as the key enabler for rapid transport.

The EPF program delivered its ninth ship late last year, USNS City of Bismarck (T-EPF 9), with delivery of USNS Burlington (EPF 10) planned for mid-November. Puerto Rico (EPF 11) and Newport (EPF 12) are currently under construction at Austal's shipyard.

Former Recruiter of U.S. Military Language Interpreters Indicted for Alleged Scheme That Resulted in Unqualified Language Interpreters Being Deployed with U.S. Combat Forces in Afghanistan

A former recruiter of U.S. military language interpreters was charged in an indictment filed today for his role in an alleged scheme to recruit unqualified language interpreters to be deployed with U.S. combat forces in Afghanistan in 2011 and 2012, announced Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John F. Sopko.

Abdul Aman, 34, of Fairfax, Virginia, was charged in the District of Maryland with one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud and one count of major fraud against the United States.  Aman will be arraigned on the charges on Nov. 8.

The indictment alleges that Aman, while working as a recruiter for a U.S. government contractor, circumvented procedures designed to ensure that candidates for jobs as language interpreters for the U.S. military met minimum proficiency standards, which resulted in unqualified language interpreters being hired and later deployed alongside U.S. combat forces in Afghanistan.  Aman’s employer was a subcontractor on a multimillion-dollar Defense Department contract to supply qualified language interpreters to support U.S. military operations around the world.  To carry out the fraud, the indictment alleges, Aman arranged for a close associate to take language tests for candidates who Aman knew did not meet minimum proficiency standards. Aman allegedly obtained financial bonuses from his employer based on the number of candidates whom his employer hired through his efforts.

This case was investigated by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction and the U.S. Army’s Criminal Investigation Command.  The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Michael P. McCarthy of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.