A U.S. Security Contractor in Iraq has been fired after an investigation exposed illicit activities involving stealing, smuggling alcohol, human trafficking of prostitutes and keeping two different account ledgers while executing a $700 million contract to protect Balad Air Base, the Associated Press reported on Wednesday.
Sallyport Global is a Virginia-based security firm that was contracted to provide security and protect Balad Air Base in Iraq which houses and maintains US F-16 fighter jets. The fighter jets aid US-led coalition with Iraqi Forces in a battle against the Islamic State (ISIS).
The illegal activities of US-based Sallyport Global were unearthed by two former internal investigators who were later fired after their probe exposed the allegations. The Pentagon in January announced it had awarded Sallyport a $200 million modification contract to continue operations at Balad Air Base until July 31.
Allegations include staff members flying planes loaded with alcohol to the air base with one plane reported to have “seesawed” from the weight of the alcohol once it was on the ground. Another involved four Ethiopian women who had previously worked as prostitutes who were moved to the base to work as housekeepers while simultaneously working as sex workers.
The company faces allegations that the staff at the base working the runways were often drunk and in one instance, intoxicated from vodka-soaked gummy bears.
One of the recently fired investigators, Kristie King told AP, “I feel like they got us out so quickly because they feel like we knew too much…When we finally got the idea that they were hiding all of the stuff from the U.S. government, it was mind-blowing.”
Before either investigation was completed, a Sallyport executive in Virginia is reported to have shut them down, dismissing the prostitution allegations as false and unsubstantiated.
Investigators, Kristie King and Robert Cole say company lawyers ordered them to keep two sets of books, which they interpreted as an attempt to deceive auditors. They also say their findings were not shown to the US government.
Illicit activities are nothing new when it comes to defense contractors. The 2016 movie, War Dogs showing two young international gun-runners in their 20s defrauding the U.S. military of an almost $300 million contract to arm the Afghan army is said to be a depiction of what often transpires with these contractors.