Former US State Department employee jailed for ‘honest services’ fraud linked to Bermuda

A former US State Department employee has been sentenced to 12 months in prison for conspiring to commit Bermuda-related “honest services” fraud.

In making the decision, Damian Williams, Jamaican United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said May Salehi, a longtime employee of the United States Department of State, “was involved in the evaluation of the offers for critical overseas government construction projects such as U.S. embassies and consulates.

Williams, whose father is a Jamaican-born doctor, said in a statement that Salehi, 66, “gave confidential tender information to a government contractor and received $60,000 in bribes. -of wine in return”.

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“As an employee of the State Department, May Salehi was tasked with serving the public,” he added. “Instead, she abused her position to line her own pockets.

“Salehi disclosed and traded confidential information, corrupting the bidding process and receiving lucrative kickbacks in return,” Williams continued. “Thanks to our partners at the State Department’s Office of Inspector General, Salehi’s crime of deception has been uncovered and Salehi has now been sentenced to prison.”

According to the allegations contained in the information, court documents and statements made in court, from 1991 to mid-2021, Salehi worked for many years as an engineer in the Overseas Building Operations (“OBO”) division. of the Department of State, which directs the global overseas construction program for the Department of State and the U.S. government community serving overseas.

In 2016, Williams said the US State Department had solicited bids for a multimillion-dollar construction project, known as the compound security upgrade, to be carried out at the consulate. American in Bermuda – called the “Bermuda Project”.

He said the bidding process involved the submission of blind, sealed bids from various bidders.

Williams said six companies submitted sealed bids, one of which was called Montage. The U.S. attorney said Salehi was involved in the Bermuda project in several ways.

Among other things, he said she chaired the Technical Evaluation Committee (“TEP”) – a panel of experts that evaluates the technical aspects of bids, including whether they meet the structural and security needs of the state department.

Under the Bermuda project, Williams said the TEP determined that five bids, including Montage’s bid, were technically acceptable.

In September 2016, he said State Department employees, who evaluate the cost of bids, had given those five bidders, including Montage, the opportunity to rebid if they wished.

Williams said Montage had two days to decide whether to submit a new offer. During the two-day window, he said Montage director Sina Moayedi contacted Salehi by phone to obtain confidential information about the relationship between Montage’s offer and those of its competitors.

Montage ultimately won the Bermuda project with a revised bid of US$6.3 million.

In the months that followed, Williams said Moayedi provided Salehi with a total of US$60,000 in bribes, “which he paid in three instalments.”

In making the bribes, Williams said Moayedi used intermediaries to obscure the connection between him and Salehi.

To conceal the true purpose of the bribes, as she suggested, the U.S. prosecutor said Salehi gave Moayedi a Persian rug “by providing it to an intermediary who passed it on to Moayedi.”

Williams said Salehi did not report the $60,000 bribe on his taxes, his State Department financial disclosure forms or his application to renew his top-secret national security clearance.

In addition to her prison sentence, the US attorney said Salehi was sentenced to three years of supervised release.

Salehi was also ordered to confiscate $60,000 and pay a fine of $500,000, Williams said.

He said Moayedi was charged with wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit “honest services” wire fraud, and major fraud against the United States. Charges against Moayedi are pending, Williams said.


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