DALLAS (CN) – U.S. contractors in Afghanistan fraudulently induced an Afghani company to work as a subcontractor, then skipped the country without paying the $1.9 million they owe, the Afghani company claims in Federal Court.
Plaintiff Associates in Development claims defendants Bennett-Fouch Associates and K5-Global, both based in Texas, were suspended by Gen. David Petraeus in January after they absconded with at least $5 million in U.S. Defense Department funds.
Co-plaintiff Jalal-Uddin Saeed, CEO of Associates in Development, says the Pentagon acknowledges that Afghan firms are owed money for work and supplies they contributed to construction projects, but Gen. Petraeus said the government could not pay subcontractors directly, and that they must seek relief from U.S. courts.
Saeed says he risked his life offering to support NATO forces in Afghanistan, and did so against the wishes of his village. He says that while he worked with the defendants he received numerous death threats, then the defendants left the country and left him holding the bag, unable to pay 300 to 400 native workers he had hired.
As death threats against him increased, Saeed says, he was forced to flee his village for his own safety, and his family’s.
Saeed says the defendants told the subcontractors it hired that it had a $50 million line of credit from which it could pay workers without having to wait for the U.S. government to process its invoices.
But all the while, Saeed claims, “Defendants had the secret intention of never paying the Afghan companies.”
He says that even after the defendants fled with the money, he continued to receive emails intended to “instigate, propagate, effect, carry on and conceal their scheme to defraud the Afghan companies.”
“After the defendants beat a hasty retreat out of Afghanistan, they continued to communicate with the Afghan companies via email and continued their scheme to avoid paying the Afghan companies, even stooping to the despicable tactic of falsely claiming … that the president of the defendant companies, Sarah Lee, committed suicide,” the complaint states.
“This was false and Ms. Lee is very much alive,” the complaint continues. “The purpose of this ‘suicide email’ was in furtherance of defendants’ scheme to defraud the Afghan companies and to cause them … to cease efforts to collect the money that defendants stole.”
Saeed seeks punitive damages for fraud, breach of contract, breach of constructive trust, civil theft, and conversion.
Defendants include Sarah Helen Mitcham aka Sarah Lee, a registered nurse who is president of Bennett-Fouch Associates and CEO of K5; Daniel Fouch, a manager of Bennett-Fouch and purportedly 51% owner; and Dennis Mitcham, a principal and/or owner of K5-Global.
Saeed is represented by Jeffrey Prudhomme with Patton Boggs in Dallas.