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    CENTCOM Suspends US Contractor Amid Non-Payment Allegations

    KABUL, AFGHANISTAN

    01.05.2011

    Courtesy Story

    U.S. Forces Afghanistan

    KABUL, Afghanistan - CENTCOM Contracting Command announced today that two prime contractors to the U.S. military in Afghanistan had their U.S. federal government contracting privileges suspended as a result of questions regarding their financial resources.

    Concerns were identified when several contractors brought allegations that Bennett-Fouch Associates and K5 Global, both owned by an American, Ms. Sarah Lee, failed to pay subcontractors. The U.S. government attempted to contact Bennett-Fouch without success to address these allegations in connection with construction contracts at military bases in Afghanistan. The failure of firms to pay their local national workforce or local national subcontractors adversely affects counterinsurgency strategy.

    According to documents provided by its subcontractors, Bennett-Fouch falsely blamed the alleged nonpayment on the U.S. government, claiming it had failed to pay the prime contractor. In reality, the U.S. government had paid Bennett-Fouch for the work on the construction projects. Before the government became aware of these allegations, Bennett-Fouch closed its local offices and its bank accounts in Afghanistan. The contracting officer attempted to locate the contractor to complete its final payment, but given these allegations, the government has set aside the remaining amount due pending final resolution.

    Bennett-Fouch’s subcontractors were Afghan companies who depended on the revenue to pay workers and complete projects. U.S. law does not allow the government to pay subcontractors directly. The Afghan firms have been informed of their opportunity for recourse against the contractors through the U.S. court system. The government’s goal is to ensure it conducts business with responsible firms who have adequate financial resources to perform the contract. Further requirements are compliance with the required or proposed delivery or performance schedule, possess a satisfactory performance record, and an established record of integrity and business ethics. Firms that do not possess these traits are suspended or debarred.

    The suspension, which could remain in effect for 18 months, is a temporary administrative measure taken to disqualify a contractor from being awarded or even considered for award until an investigation is completed. Further administrative action, including debarment, may be recommended after the investigation is complete. A company that is debarred cannot conduct business with the U.S. for a period commensurate with the seriousness of the crimes or causes of the debarment, normally not to exceed five years.

    The move is the latest in a series to combat illicit and improper activity with regard to contracting in Afghanistan. USFOR-A is committed to the positive impact that contracting can have on the country. The goal is to ensure companies that benefit from the large number of contracts throughout Afghanistan exhibit integrity and appropriate business ethics. Those that do not will be fully investigated and the parties will be held accountable.

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    Date Taken: 01.05.2011
    Date Posted: 01.05.2011 05:21
    Story ID: 63025
    Location: KABUL, AF 

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    CENTCOM Suspends US Contractor Amid Non-Payment Allegations