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Cablegate: Kbr Trafficking Lawsuit Generating Wide Interest

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHAM #2671/01 2591148
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 151148Z SEP 08
FM AMEMBASSY AMMAN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3525
INFO RUEHGB/AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD 6071
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU 0056

UNCLAS AMMAN 002671

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KTIP NP IZ JO
SUBJECT: KBR TRAFFICKING LAWSUIT GENERATING WIDE INTEREST
IN JORDAN

1. (U) Summary: A lawsuit recently filed in California
against Kellogg Brown & Root, Inc., and Jordanian firm Daoud
& Partners for allegedly trafficking 13 Nepalese into Iraq
has generated wide interest. Commentators are demanding that
the GOJ investigate, prodded along by spurious allegations
that the Chief of the Royal Court is involved (septel). In
2005, the Ministry of Labor closed one of the co-conspirator
companies named in the lawsuit, Morning Star for Recruitment
and Manpower Supply, for its role in facilitating the entry
of laborers into Jordan. The company is again operational but
not believed to be directly recruiting workers. No other
investigations or measures were taken against any of the
companies named in the lawsuit. On September 10 Foreign
Minister Salah Bashir denied that the MFA or Jordanian
Embassy in the U.S. had received any notice of, or had any
information about, the lawsuit.

Origins of the Lawsuit
----------------------

2. (U) Family members of twelve Nepalese taken hostage and
killed in Iraq in 2004 and a survivor of the incident
submitted a lawsuit on August 27 in the Central District
Court of California alleging they were trafficked across
international borders to provide labor in U.S. military
facilities. The complaint is against Kellogg Brown & Root,
Inc. (KBR), and its Jordanian subcontractor Daoud & Partners
(Daoud). Three companies are also listed as co-conspirators
and active participants in the trafficking enterprise:
Moonlight Consultant Pvt, Ltd (Moonlight), Morning Star for
Recruitment and Manpower Supply (Morning Star), and Bisharat
& Partners (Bisharat). Moonlight is a Nepalese Company.
Morning Star and Bisharat are Jordanian companies as is Daoud
& Partners.

3. (U) According to the complaint, Moonlight recruited the
plaintiffs through an advertisement for hotel jobs in Amman.
Once in Jordan, Morning Star provided the plaintiffs to
Daoud, reportedly sub-contracted by KBR to provide workers
for their work in Iraq. The plaintiffs were allegedly
required to hand over their passports, told there were no
hotel jobs, and informed they would be working at Al Asad Air
Base, north of Ramadi, instead. Daoud then contracted
Bisharat to transport the plaintiffs to Ramadi. Bisharat
arranged the transportation along the dangerous
Amman-to-Baghdad Highway where two weeks earlier, Daoud had
seen two drivers kidnapped. Part of the caravan was
intercepted, with twelve Nepalese taken hostage and later
killed. The surviving plaintiff made it safely to the Air
Base.

4. (U) Also according to an article in the Washington
Business Journal on July 11, the U.S. Department of Labor's
Office of Administrative Law ruled in April 2008 that the
men's families were entitled to death benefits. The same law
firm, Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll PLC, that filed the
aforementioned complaint sued, pro bono, Daoud and its
insurance company under the Defense Base Act, which is
similar to a workers' compensation statute for military
facilities overseas. Daoud was ordered to pay $100,000 to the
families of each victim. KBR was not part of the lawsuit
because the relevant insurance policy was written in the name
of Daoud.

Legal Actions
-------------

5. (U) On March 17, the Jordanian MFA provided post a
diplomatic note (in response to a February 2008 diplomatic
note asking for information for the 2008 Trafficking in
Persons Report) stating that Morning Star was closed by the
Ministry of Labor in 2005 after its owner, Adnalin Frank Kiko
Santos, was summoned to explain its role in this trafficking
case after it was detailed in the media. According to the
diplomatic note, it was clear that the owner's husband, Iyad
Mansur, who had previous experience working with Moonlight,
had facilitated the recruitment of the Nepali workers. The
note also indicated that the Nepali workers did not enter the
country under the name of Morning Star but as transit
passengers. MOL officials subsequently confirmed this last
point.

6. (U) According to the diplomatic note and several MOL
officials, Morning Star itself filed a criminal lawsuit
against Iyad Mansur in Amman Criminal Court stating that he
individually, and not the company, was responsible for the
recruitment of the workers. According to the MOL, the case is
still pending and Morning Star is again in business but not
directly recruiting workers. No other investigations or
actions were taken against any of the co-conspirators (Daoud,

Morning Star, or Bisharat) in Jordan. An Agence
France-Presse article on September 8 quotes a statement from
Daoud that it denies "any role in the unfortunate case" and
"does not have any information that a lawsuit was filed
against it outside of Jordan."

Call for Investigations
-----------------------

7. (SBU) The lawsuit has prompted a flurry of stories and
opinion pieces in the Jordanian press. The level of interest
can be partially attributed to false assertions that Bassem
Awadallah, Chief of the Royal Court, had a stake in one of
the companies (septel). Despite the mud being thrown in
Awadallah's direction, the underlying messages being aired
are that trafficking is serious, that it violates Jordanian
law and harms Jordan's interests, and that the allegations
detailed in the complaint need to be investigated.

Visit Amman's Classified Website at:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/nea/amman

Beecroft
Beecroft

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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