The former owner of a marble mining company in Afghanistan was sentenced to 54 months in prison Thursday for his role in a scheme to defraud the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), a U.S. government agency, which led to the default on a $15.8 million loan.
Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) John Sopko and Assistant Director in Charge Timothy Slater of the FBI’s Washington Field Office made the announcement.
Azam Doost, aka “Adam Doost,” “Mohammad Azam Doost” and “Mohammad Azim,” 41, most recently of Union City, California, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta of the District of Columbia, who also ordered Doost to serve 36 months of supervised release and to pay $8.9 million in forfeiture and separate restitution in the same amount. After a seven-day jury trial in September 2018, presided over by Judge Mehta, Doost was found guilty of three counts of major fraud against the United States, eight counts of wire fraud, four counts of false statements on loan applications or extensions and eight counts of money laundering.
The evidence at trial showed that in February 2010, while working at his company, Equity Capital Mining LLC, Doost, along with his brother, obtained a $15.8 million loan from OPIC for the development, maintenance and operation of a marble mine in western Afghanistan. The loan proceeds were paid directly from OPIC to the alleged vendors who provided equipment for the mine, as reported to OPIC by Doost or his consultant. Doost was required to deal with these companies in arms-length transactions or, to the extent any transactions were other than at arms-length, he was required to report any affiliation he had with a vendor. Doost falsely informed OPIC that he had no affiliation with any of the vendors with whom he dealt, when in fact he had financial relationships with several of them.
The evidence also showed that Doost’s business partner was listed on the bank accounts for a number of these vendors and that, upon receipt of money from OPIC into the respective accounts, Doost caused significant amounts of this money to be transferred from that respective account to companies and individuals with whom Doost was associated, or to pay debts Doost owed. Doost’s consultant received a commission of $444,000 for his purported consulting services with the first of three disbursements from OPIC, and shortly after $40,000 was transferred from the consultant’s account to a Doost company in California.
The trial further showed that when the time came for Equity Capital Mining LLC to repay the loan to OPIC, Doost provided purported reasons to OPIC why it was not able to make those repayments at a time when Doost had control of sufficient funds to make those repayments. Doost and his brother failed to repay any of the principal on the OPIC loan, and only a limited amount of interest, and ultimately defaulted on the loan, the evidence showed.