Australian accused of taking bribes in Afghanistan

AP News
Posted: Oct 14, 2010 6:20 AM
Australian accused of taking bribes in Afghanistan

An Australian construction manager has been detained in India for allegedly taking a $190,000 bribe to allow a subcontractor to build a hospital and college in Afghanistan.

Neil P. Campbell was indicted Aug. 19 by a federal grand jury in Washington, D.C., on the charge of receiving a bribe while working for an organization receiving U.S. government funds, a U.S. Department of Justice statement said Wednesday.

"This arrest serves as a strong warning to all who defraud the U.S. in Afghanistan that they will be found and held accountable, regardless of citizenship," said Arnold Fields, special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction.

Campbell was arrested in New Delhi on Wednesday by agents of the Indian Central Bureau of Investigation. He faces extradition from India to the United States.

Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said an Australian man was detained Wednesday on arrival at the Indira Gandhi International Airport. The department could not confirm it was Campbell because of Australian privacy laws.

"Consular officers are seeking to provide consular assistance to the man," it said in a statement.

The maximum penalty for bribery is 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

No immediate comment was available from Campbell on Wednesday, an Indian holiday.

According to an indictment, Campbell allegedly solicited a cash payment of $190,000 to allow a subcontractor in Afghanistan to build a hospital and a teaching college.

Campbell worked for the International Organization on Migration, which has received more than $260 million since 2002 from USAID. IOM has worked with the U.S. and Afghanistan governments to construct hospitals, schools and other facilities.


Associated Press writers Rod McGuirk in Canberra, and Tim Sullivan in New Delhi contributed to this report.