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Bloom's guilty plea on bribery and money-laundering charges is the latest development in a widening corruption scandal centred on a network of US civilians and military officials who worked out of a coalition outpost in the south-central Iraqi town of Hillah.
His guilty plea "sends a message to Iraqis that US oversight will track down, arrest and prosecute American citizens who committed crimes in Iraq involving Iraqi money", said Stuart Bowen, who heads the office of the Special Inspector-General for Iraq Reconstruction.
Stein, who had a previous conviction for fraud when he was hired, pleaded guilty to accepting bribes in February. He funnelled money and favours from Bloom to other officials in Hillah, all of whom helped direct contracts to a group of companies controlled by Bloom, court documents say. From January to June , when the coalition government was replaced, Bloom provided Stein and officers with first-class air tickets, real estate lots, weapons, new four-wheel-drive vehicles, cigars, designer watches, alcohol, prostitutes at Bloom's Baghdad villa and cash bribes.
In some cases the work was never done, and in others it was shoddy, audits by the inspector-general reveal. The contracts were paid with Iraqi funds held in the Development Fund for Iraq, which has been at the centre of many of the corruption scandals in Iraq. Also in Baghdad yesterday, separate groups of gunmen entered two primary schools and beheaded two teachers in front of their students, the Ministry of State for National Security said.
Sex and money bought Iraq contracts. The Sydney Morning Herald.