Friday, January 7, 2011

Where's the money, private contractors?

The United States Army Central Command has suspended work with two American civilian contractor companies operating in Iraq and Afghanistan because of their failure to pay Afghan contractors. 

The failure of the two companies, Bennett-Fouch Associates of Michigan and K5 Global, to pay millions of dollars to Afghan subcontractors for work on various NATO bases raises alarming questions. The case raised concerns among military officials and other foreign contractors that it would turn Afghans against the United States military and civilian operations in Afghanistan.

It confirmed that the American companies, which are both listed as being owned by an American citizen named Sarah Lee, had failed to pay some of their Afghan subcontractors and said that Bennett-Fouch had falsely blamed the United States military for the nonpayment.

Bennett-Fouch closed its offices and accounts in Afghanistan and left the country before the military made its final payment to the company, the statement said, and has been unreachable since. Phone numbers for the companies no longer work.

Calls and e-mails to Ms. Lee, Bennett-Fouch offices and other employees were not answered.