A former Coalition Provisional Authority official and a contractor involved in Iraq reconstruction have been charged with conspiring to commit money laundering and wire fraud in connection with a bribery and fraud scheme, the U.S. Dept. of Justice announced Nov. 17.

Robert J. Stein, 50, of Fayetteville, N.C., was arrested in Fayetteville on Nov. 14. In 2003 and 2004, Stein was the comptroller and funding officer for the CPA’s South Central Region in Al-Hillah, Iraq. Philip Bloom, 65, a U.S. citizen living in Rumania and Iraq, was arrested in Newark, N.J., on Nov. 13. Bloom was owner and operator of numerous construction and service companies doing business in Iraq.

According to affidavits filed at U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia, beginning in December 2003, Stein and Bloom conspired to rig bids on contracts being awarded by CPA-SC so that numerous contracts totaling in excess of $13 million were awarded to Bloom’s to businesses. The affidavit alleges that Bloom paid Stein and others hundreds of thousands of dollars in money and gifts in return for the use of their official positions to award contracts to Bloom and his companies. The bribes and gratuities paid to Stein allegedly included payments for the purchase of automobiles, jewelry and real estate.

According to the affidavits, Bloom, Stein and others facilitated numerous wire transfers and other financial transactions rep-resenting the proceeds of the fraudulently awarded contracts to promote unlawful activity or conceal the source and origin of the funds.

If convicted, each man faces up to 30 years in prison, a three-year term of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000.