One of the government’s largest nonprofit contractors hired to work on humanitarian projects in Iraq and Afghanistan is under investigation for overbilling taxpayers by millions and then spending the money on themselves.
Executives from International Relief and Development allegedly overcharged the government millions of dollars to pay for alcohol, Redskins tickets, dinner and personal travel expenses, The Washington Post first reported.
Federal investigators from several agencies are still probing the organization and haven’t released an official report yet. Organization and agency officials told The Post they’ve already reviewed $3 million worth of IRD expenses and flagged about $1 million in questionable charges.
The government reimburses contractors for overhead costs only. This does not include expenses like personal dinners and NFL tickets—all of which IRD allegedly tried to pass off as overhead.
The organization raked in $2.4 billion from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) before being suspended last month after federal investigations revealed IRD was engaged in serious misconduct and improper spending of taxpayer dollars.
The suspension notice, obtained by The Post, accused IRD of mischarging USAID over a period of “at least four years.” USAID gave IRD 30 days to respond to the suspension notice and questioned why IRD officials who were likely aware of the improper spending practices were still holding their positions.
Then, last Friday, a handful of senior IRD executives suddenly resigned, including its chief financial officer, general counsel and chief administrative officer. The resignations came as investigators from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction intensify their probes into IRD’s handling of taxpayer money.
The former president of the organization, Arthur B. Keys — who retired last year — is one of the primary subjects of the ongoing investigation, as the questionable charges were made on his American Express card, though Keys’ attorney says other employees also used the card so it’s impossible to determine that it was Keys who made the charges.
IRD’s new president, Roger Ervin, told The Post that he’s turned over relevant financial records to the investigators. Meanwhile, the organization says it's in the process of improving financial controls and restructuring their operations.
The investigation is ongoing, so it’s unclear what will happen to IRD.
Top Reads From The Fiscal Times: