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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 February 2007, 22:22 GMT
Five charged over US Iraq 'scam'
Cranes in Baghdad
The group are alleged to have run the scam for two years
A US court has charged three reserve army officers and two civilians with using millions of dollars of Iraq reconstruction money for personal gain.

The group are accused of directing at least $8m (4m) to a construction firm run by a US businessman in return for luxuries such as cars and jewellery.

The officers were responsible for supervising how some $26bn was spent on reconstruction projects in Iraq.

One man has already been jailed and another awaits sentence over the scam.

Cash and jewellery

According to the 25-count indictment, Col Curtis G Whiteford, Lt Col Debra M Harrison and Lt Col Michael B Wheeler channelled the funds into a construction and services company operated by US businessman Philip H Bloom.

US citizen Michael Morris is alleged to have acted as a go-between, illegally wiring money and securing the goods.

This indictment alleges that the defendants flagrantly enriched themselves at the expense of the Iraqi people
Paul J McNulty
US deputy attorney general
Mr Morris was arrested in Romania, from where the US is seeking to extradite him back to New Jersey.

The other indicted civilian, William Driver, is Col Harrison's husband.

The group is alleged to have run the scam for two years, from December 2003 when Iraq was governed by the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.

The officers are alleged to have rigged contracts being awarded by the CPA so they were won by Bloom's company.

In return, Bloom is alleged to have furnished the group and others with over $1m in cash, vehicles, jewellery, computers, business class airline tickets, alcohol and promises of employment.

Mr Driver is charged with helping to smuggle at least $10,000 into the US to help pay for home improvements.

"This indictment alleges that the defendants flagrantly enriched themselves at the expense of the Iraqi people - the very people they were there to help," said Deputy Attorney General Paul J McNulty.

"US government officials working in Iraq are not for sale," he said.

Last week former Pentagon contractor Robert Stein was jailed for nine years after pleading guilty to the scam.

Bloom has also pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentence.

The charges that the group face

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