Washington: Funds from a whopping USD 2.6
billion military transportation contract in Afghanistan was
diverted to a murky network of subcontractors and into the
hands of the Taliban, a year-long probe has found.
Roughly USD 600 million of the contract programme
called Host Nation Trucking had been spent before authorities
were alerted to the scandal, CNN quoted a source as saying,
citing an internal report.
Only part of that money, however, is believed to have
been diverted to "nefarious elements," the source added.
A Pentagon official said the full USD 2.16 billion
contract covered the movement and transportation of 70 per
cent of the material needed for US troops in Afghanistan.
Officials were first alerted to the possibility of a
scandal in June 2010, after a Congressional inquiry prompted
the creation of a joint task force to investigate potential
criminal dealings surrounding US contracts.
The group gathered financial reports, prime and
subcontract documents and other negotiations from between 2009
and 2010, prompting authorities to make major changes in their
existing contract award and accounting system.
But much of the damage had already been done, the
"There were indications dollars were flowing to
criminals or to the enemy," said the Pentagon official, who
did not want to be identified.
The official said it appears some of the payments were
given for truckers to be assured of safe passage through
insurgent areas of Afghanistan. As has happened in other
instances, trucking contractors paid off local drivers who
then turned around and paid local security forces, who in turn
paid Taliban insurgents in their areas.
The year-long investigation uncovered "nefarious"
conduct in at least four of eight trucking companies the US
government uses to deliver food and supplies to soldiers and
civilians in forward operating bases and other US
installations across Afghanistan.
The internal document -- which was first reported by
The Washington Post -- identified the firms as either
exclusively Afghan or as joint ventures with international