Kundra is Obama’s “much-lauded” pick to be the CIO of the federal government. The AP has more on this budding bribery scandal:
FBI agents are conducting a search of the offices of the District of Columbia’s chief technology officer.
The head of that office, Vivek Kundra, recently left to take a job with the Obama administration.
Katherine Schweit, spokeswoman for the FBI’s Washington field office, said a search is being conducted that is part of an ongoing investigation…
President Barack Obama named Kundra earlier this month to help oversee the ability of government computer systems to speak to each other and security for vast federal information databanks. [AP]
I know of at least one mutineer who is on the scene, right now. I’ll update this post as we learn more.
UPDATE #1 Kundra is not the target of the raid, but at least one other South Asian (an employee in his office) IS:
The FBI raided the former office of Obama administration official Vivek Kundra in a corruption probe on Thursday but Kundra is not a target of the investigation, a spokeswoman for Washington Mayor Adrian Fenty said.
The FBI was searching the offices of the District of Columbia’s chief technology officer, a position formerly held by Kundra, as it investigates employees for corruption there, spokeswoman Mafara Hobson said…
Yusuf Acar, who works in the District’s technology office, and another man, Sushil Bansal, were arrested as part of the investigation, FBI spokeswoman Lindsay Godwin said, adding that the charges remain under seal. [Reuters]
Desi DRAMA. More, as we get it, as soon as I can post it (assuming Comcast’s tatti WiFi doesn’t fail me like it just did).
UPDATE #2 Obama still hearts Kundra?
The big question for Wired readers is: Will the investigation and problems touch the much-lauded incoming tech geek? And the answer, it seems, is no.
A source close to the Obama tech team wrote to us: “Kundra will be fine. His aide will not.” [WIRED]
You sure about that?
UPDATE #3 Long-time reader, past NetSAP-DC Jefe and long-time DC-resident Salil points out that Kundra is a Republican, and he may not be entirely safe:
Kundra may not be part of the raid, but rest assured, he’s part of the scandal (emphasis his).
The wingnuts are already clapping their hands together with glee, and somehow missing the fact that Kundra is actually a Republican. [link]
A D.C. government official and a business executive were arrested yesterday on bribery charges involving city technology contracts that included “ghost” workers and kickbacks, federal authorities said…
In court documents released yesterday, FBI agent Andrew Sekela laid out the complicated and audacious schemes allegedly orchestrated by a mid-level manager who approved many contracts involving the city government’s technology needs.
Authorities said the conspiracy was uncovered with the help of a D.C. government employee who recorded conversations with the executive and the city official.
The Wire! (probably not applicable. still, couldn’t resist.) As for the flight risk, I mean suspect:
Yusuf Acar, 40, who has worked in the technology office since 2004, was charged with bribery, conspiracy, money laundering and conflict of interest. Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Hibarger told a federal judge that Acar is a flight risk because agents seized $70,000 in cash in his house and because in recorded conversations, he boasted that he could easily flee to his native Turkey. Acar also told the informant that he could use computers to create fake D.C. birth certificates, Hibarger said.
If I had a dollar for every time someone boasted to me that they could easily flee to India… Anyway, what about the desi who is involved. That’s what you really care about, innit?
Sushil Bansal, 41, president and chief executive of the contracting firm Advanced Integrated Technologies Corp. (AITC), was charged with bribery and money laundering. He was released on personal recognizance. Federal agents said Bansal’s company received more than $13 million in revenue from the D.C. government in the past five years.
I am sometimes tempted to launder my money, because I heard it’s filthy and I’m kinda OCD. In the future, I will remind myself of the potential consequences of my squeamishness. Oh, and here’s how the scam worked:
Acar approved work with a vendor, such as Bansal’s AITC, to arrange the purchase of goods such as software. The vendor ordered fewer items but billed the District for a larger amount. Bansal, Acar and others then split the proceeds, FBI officials said.
Acar also approved fraudulent time sheets for nonexistent employees, Sekela wrote. Acar and the others split the proceeds paid by the D.C. government, Sekela alleged.
Authorities traced more than $200,000 in payments last year from Bansal’s firm to a private company, Circle Networks Inc. The firm is co-owned by Acar, even though he is prohibited from having an interest in any company doing business with the city, Sekela wrote. Circle Networks generated about $2.2 million in revenue through D.C. government contracts, the agent wrote.
What. a. mess.
UPDATE #5 I wonder if the “source” cited by WIRED (see: update #2) who is allegedly close to the Obama team is that “close” about his prediction after all. Kundra is safe? Really? Doesn’t this seem more likely:
Vivek Kundra, President Obama’s newly appointed federal chief information officer, is not implicated in the Thursday FBI raid on his former District of Columbia government office, but it could raise questions later about his management abilities and cause a political dust-up, information technology executives said. [NextGov]
Oh, the irony. The delicious, make-Alanis-jealous irony:
While Kundra was delivering a speech on the need for transparency in IT procurements at the annual technology FOSE conference in Washington, FBI agents were arresting Yusuf Acar, an information security officer for the D.C. government who worked for Kundra when Kundra served as the District’s chief technology officer. Acar was taken into custody at his home in Washington on Thursday morning and charged with financial conflict of interest, money laundering and conspiracy. He was scheduled to be arraigned in federal court Thursday afternoon.
…the raid has the potential to cause some political problems for Kundra. “Will people question Vivek’s management? Yep. Is that fair? Nope,” said a former federal technology manager who asked to remain anonymous. “Fair isn’t part of the political process. If any hint of missed oversight arises, expect calls for his resignation. Again, not fair, but political.” [NextGov]
A huge thank you to so many of you, for keeping us up-to-date with information. Developing…