Last month, this blog reported that a Delray Beach oilman named Harry Sargeant III may have overcharged the U.S. government by more than $200 million while fulfilling military contracts. Now, according to MSNBC.com, Sargeant is being accused of bribing Jordanian government officials to secure land routes through Jordan. (Full disclosure: The author of the MSNBC story, Penn Bullock, is my own frequent writing partner.)
This is one of those data-rich stories that's all but impossible to boil down to a few punchy grafs, but let's give it a whack: Sargeant is a major Republican fundraiser and, until recently, the finance chair of the Florida GOP. He's also owner of the International Oil Trading Co., which has spent a good part of the past decade supplying fuel to American military bases in Western Iraq, near the Jordanian border. Sargeant's bids on these contracts were always very, very high, but the Pentagon had to take them. Sargeant, it seems, was the only dude who could get warrants from the Jordanians to ship oil through their country.
Congressman Henry Waxman, a Democrat from California, ordered an investigation of Sargeant's contracts, and upon its completion, he accused Sargeant of the "worst kind of war profiteering," claiming Sargeant used close ties with the Jordanians to maintain a monopoly on supply routes. A Pentagon audit came to much the same conclusion.
That's the old news.
The new news is that Mohammad al-Saleh, brother-in-law of Jordan's King Abdullah II, is suing Sargeant for allegedly screwing him out of a one-third share of International Oil Trading Co. During the course of the lawsuit, there have surfaced vague allegations about possible bribery, which MSNBC has traced to a $9 million wire transfer to the staff of a mysterious Jordanian known as "Pasha." Pasha, it seems, is Gen. Mohammad Dahabi, the former head of the General Intelligence Directorate -- the Jordanian equivalent of the CIA.
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In fact, the CIA and the GID are known to work in concert, and it's probably no coincidence that before the wire transfers took place, Sargeant took on a former "Middle East Station Chief" with the CIA named Marty Martin to help facilitate his operations. Emails concerning the $9 million in maybe-bribes were sent by Martin to Pasha's staff, asking for confirmation of the receipt of two payments of $4.5 million.
Sargeant's lawyers say the money was destined for a company called "The Taurus Trading Co.," one of Sargeant's contractors -- but why, if so, wouldn't the money have been sent to them directly? This is the question that neither Sargeant's lawyers nor any of the involved parties in Jordan seem willing or able to answer.