NEW YORK, May 26 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A dozen
delivery and supply companies and affiliates based in Turkey are
banned from doing business with the U.S. government due to their
roles in profiteering from humanitarian aid intended for Syria,
U.S. officials said on Friday.
A corrupt network of bribery, fraud, bid-rigging and
kickbacks involving aid to Syria has been the subject of a
two-year investigation, said the U.S. Agency for International
Development (USAID) Office of Inspector General (OIG).
With the barring of Turkey's Senkardes Co., its owner Orhan
Senkardes and 10 affiliates, the probe has resulted in 35
suspensions and debarments, the OIG said in a statement.
The debarments announced on Friday will be in place for five
years, officials said. The companies provided food kits,
humanitarian items and delivery services related to USAID
humanitarian programs in Syria.
The OIG disclosed last year that it had unearthed a corrupt
network of commercial vendors, employees of nongovernmental
organizations and others operating out of Turkey.
The most common fraud involved collusion between companies
selling humanitarian supplies and staff of USAID local partners
who accepted bribes or kickbacks in exchange for help in winning
There were also cases of aid items being substituted for
cheaper alternatives and of inspection failures.
U.S. officials said the investigation found Orhan Senkardes,
Senkardes Co and others participated in a procurement fraud
scheme with corrupt NGO staff.
Four companies under Senkardes' control also illegally bid
against each other for U.S.-funded procurements, it said.
Collusion in bidding violates federal regulations.
Since the conflict in Syria began in 2011, almost 500,000
people are estimated to have been killed and more than 11
million, about half the population, are displaced either
internally or as refugees.
"OIG's pursuit of corrupt actors in Syria and the
surrounding region remains as critical as ever as we work to
protect life-saving aid programs from fraud, waste, and
abuse," said Ann Calvaresi Barr, USAID Inspector General, in a
The OIG said its investigation was open and ongoing.
(Reporting by Ellen Wulfhorst, Editing by Belinda Goldsmith;
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