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Iraq Kickbacks Alleged

November 17, 2005|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — An American businessman paid at least $630,000 in kickbacks to U.S. occupation authority officials to win reconstruction contracts in Iraq, according to a federal affidavit made public Wednesday.

Philip H. Bloom, a U.S. citizen who has lived in Romania for years, was arrested recently at Newark International Airport in New Jersey. He made a brief court appearance here Wednesday and remains in custody.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson said the charges involve money laundering and conspiracy to defraud the government.

Bloom allegedly conspired with officials of the Coalition Provisional Authority and U.S. military to rig bids for contracts in the cities of Hillah and Karbala. In some cases, Bloom's companies did no work, investigator Patrick McKenna Jr. said.

Bloom or companies he controls made bank deposits of $353,000 in behalf of at least two CPA officials and bought them real estate in North Carolina as well as vehicles and jewelry worth more than $280,000 in 2004 and 2005, McKenna said.

Neither of the officials was named, but one of them was described as cooperating with investigators.

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