U.S. Protections and Investigations Under Investigation
ABC News Blog
Gretchen Peters Reports
October 9, 2007

Another American private security contractor is under federal scrutiny, according to law enforcement officials in Afghanistan.

The officials tell the Blotter on ABCNews.com that the investigation involves allegations of fraudulent overbilling against U.S. Protections and Investigations (USPI) of Houston, Texas.

The company has a multi-million-dollar contract with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to provide security for U.S.-funded road building projects in Afghanistan.

The company has also received millions of dollars to train Iraqi SWAT teams and parliamentary security in Baghdad, according to government contracting data.

U.S. and Afghan officials have seized computers, files and a safe from the Kabul offices of USPI, according to police officials and people who were at the scene.

Sources, including an Afghan police official, said that the chief financial officer of USPI's Kabul office and three other employees were detained and questioned about allegations the company skimmed millions of dollars through fraudulent mark-ups of expenses billed to USAID.

Mike Carroll, the deputy inspector general at USAID, told ABCNews.com that "our policy is that we don't comment on ongoing investigations."

The sources said one of the employees taken in for questioning was a personal assistant to USPI's chief executive, Del Spiers.

Spiers directed questions to his company's lawyer, Eric Dubelier.

Dubelier said USPI would cooperate with any investigation but that "we have no reason to believe that anybody at USPI has done anything wrong."

USPI's Web site says the security firm employs a force of 45 foreign workers, 115 Afghans and approximately 3,500 Ministry of Interior supplementary troops to "help bring about change and improvement for the people of Afghanistan."

In August, a roadside attack on a USPI convoy in Kandahar killed 15 people. Last December, a suicide bomber walked into a meeting of USPI employees and detonated a blast that killed two American and five Afghan employees.

Justin Rood contributed to this report.     

Original Text