WASHINGTON (CN) – A federal judge refused to dismiss the indictment against a man who allegedly wanted a $190,000 kickback to award building contracts for hospitals and schools in Afghanistan.
Neil Campbell argued that federal law does not cover conduct outside the domestic boundaries of the United States, but U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer disagreed. The indictment alleges that Campbell met with the undercover agent posing as an employee with Afghanistan construction company ABC in July 2010. Campbell, senior a construction manager associated with the International Organization for Migration, allegedly asked the agent for $190,000 in cash “to allow ABC to continue to work on the hospital and college projects.”
Through a partnership of the U.S. Agency for International Development and International Organization of Migration, ABC won more than $15 million in subcontracts to build a hospital and a provincial teacher training college in Afghanistan.
“Allegedly, Mr. Campbell stated that he ‘got [ABC] $14 million worth of work’ and ‘one hundred and ninety thousand dollars is nothing for the risk I am taking,'” according to Collyer’s summary of the indictment. “The undercover investigator asked about future subcontracts that Mr. Campbell could obtain for ABC and Mr. Campbell responded, ‘We’ll have to wait for USAID to give us the money.'”
Campbell, who was arrested earlier this year in India, fought the indictment and filed a motion to dismiss, claiming the charge “fails to invoke the court’s jurisdiction or to state an offense.” He claimed that the law cannot be applied extraterritorially, and by doing so violates his rights to due process. He also claimed that his prosecution would violate customary international law and that the indictment “erroneously identifies him as an employee of IOM [the International Organization of Migration], which he is not,” and therefore not subject to prosecution.
Collyer rejected Campbell’s arguments, citing a Supreme Court ruling that “the same rule of interpretation should not be applied to criminal statutes with are, as a class, not logically dependent on their locality for the government’s jurisdiction, but are enacted because of the right of the government to defend itself against obstruction, or fraud wherever perpetrated, especially if committed by its own citizens, officers or agents.”