"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
McEVERS: In his modernist sitting room, Chalabi receives petitioners like a powerful sheik. He says Iraq should serve as an example to the region.
Mr. AHMED CHALABI (Iraqi Politician): Iraq has overthrown one of the most terrible dictatorships and blood-thirsty dictators in the 20th century. Now, Iraq can claim rightfully that it has a democratic government and it has elected parliament and free elections, and there is a dialogue, a political dialogue, going on.
McEVERS: Thing is, it's not quite so simple. In Iraq, Saddam Hussein led an elite made up mostly of Sunnis. Now that he's gone, many of those in power are Shiites. Western analysts say rather than just asserting a new Iraq, Chalabi and others are pushing for a Shiite Iraq to become a major player in the so-called Shiite Crescent, which is led by Iraq's neighbor, Iran. And this, they say, is why Chalabi cares so deeply about Bahrain. The majority of people there are Shiite, but the ruling family is Sunni. Chalabi denies he's stoking sectarian flames by extending a Shiite hand to Bahrain.
Again, Moqtada al-Sadr does not represent the Iraqi resistance. He is a threat to the Iraqi people, he has always been a threat to the Iraqi people.
"The message in this and the SEC's other FCPA cases is plain -- any competitive advantage gained through corruption is a mirage," said Robert Khuzami, Director of the SEC's Division of Enforcement. "J&J chose profit margins over compliance with the law by acquiring a private company for the purpose of paying bribes, and using sham contracts, off-shore companies, and slush funds to cover its tracks."
Cheryl J. Scarboro, Chief of the SEC Enforcement Division's Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Unit, added, "Bribes to public doctors can have a detrimental effect on the public health care systems that potentially pay more for products procured through greed and corruption."
According to the SEC's complaint filed in federal court in the District of Columbia, public doctors and administrators in Greece, Poland, and Romania who ordered or prescribed J&J products were rewarded in a variety of ways, including with cash and inappropriate travel. J&J subsidiaries, employees and agents used slush funds, sham civil contracts with doctors, and off-shore companies in the Isle of Man to carry out the bribery.
Peter Loftus and Jessica Holzer (Dow Jones Newswire) reminded, "The news is the latest black eye for J&J, which has been grappling with a series of product recalls because of manufacturing-quality lapses, as well as government investigations of its U.S. marketing practices. J&J recently agreed to heightened government oversight of manufacturing in its McNeil Consumer Healthcare unit, the source of recalls of millions of bottles of over-the-counter medicines including Tylenol since 2009."
In other corruption news, the Justice Dept announced Friday that a one-time US Baghdad Embassy employee who stole close to $250,000 had received a prison sentence:
WASHINGTON -- A former employee of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., to 42 months in prison for stealing nearly $250,000 intended for the payment of shipping and customs services for the embassy, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride for the Eastern District of Virginia.
Osama Esam Saleem Ayesh, 36, was also ordered to pay $243,416 in restitution and a $5,000 fine, as well as to serve three years of supervised release following his prison term. A federal jury convicted Ayesh on two counts of theft of public money and one count of engaging in acts affecting a personal financial interest. Ayesh was arrested at Dulles International Airport on Aug. 16, 2010, and indicted on Oct. 15, 2010, on the charges for which he was convicted.
Ayesh, a resident of Jordan, was hired by the Department of State as a shipping and customs supervisor at the embassy in Baghdad, who oversaw the shipments of personal property of embassy officials and personnel in Iraq. His duties required that he maintain close contact with local Iraqi companies and vendors with expertise in clearing goods through Iraqi customs. As a State Department employee, Ayesh was aware that he would be subject to the conflict of interest laws of the United States that prohibit government employees from using their position for personal profit.
According to court records, Ayesh used his State Department computer to create a phony e-mail account in the name of a real Iraqi contractor and used that e-mail account to impersonate the contractor in communications with embassy procurement officials. He also established a bank account in Jordan under his wife's name to further his criminal scheme and falsified wire transfer instructions that directed U.S. government electronic funds transfers to that account.
Court records and evidence at trial showed that Ayesh was personally involved in establishing and operating blanket purchase agreements for the provision of customs clearance and delivery services to the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. From November 2008 to June 2010, Ayesh submitted false invoices in the name of an Iraqi contractor -- which Ayesh fabricated on blank stationery he kept in his embassy apartment -- and caused the U.S. Department of State to wire $243,416 to his wife's account in Jordan.
This case was prosecuted by David Laufman of the Criminal Division's Fraud Section, who is on detail to the Department of Justice from the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas McQuillan of the Eastern District of Virginia. The Criminal Division's Office of International Affairs provided assistance in this matter. The case was investigated by special agents of the State Department's Office of Inspector General and the FBI's Washington Field Office.