* Team asked to investigate procurement incident
* Case called a "major heist" by special agent
* Mabus vows to go after fraud "as hard as I can"
WASHINGTON, April 11 U.S. Navy Secretary Ray
Mabus on Monday said he had set up a special review team to
investigate procurement practices after a Navy acquisition
official and the owner of a small technology firm were indicted
for an alleged $10 million kickback scheme.
"We will not accept any impropriety, kickbacks, bribery or
fraud," Mabus told the annual conference of the Navy's biggest
booster group, the Navy League.
Mabus, a former prosecutor and state auditor, said the
case, described by a Navy investigator as a $10 million heist,
"got my attention" and he created the review team to
investigate and recommend improvements in the contracting
process to prevent any future incidents.
"Things like fraud, kickbacks, anything like that, which
has the ability to undermine the confidence in the procurement
process I'm going to go after just as hard as I can," Mabus
told reporters after his speech to the conference.
The Navy had also expanded its use of fact-based suspension
and debarment actions, and had more to do, he said.
U.S. Attorney Peter Neronha in early February announced the
indictments of Ralph Mariano, a civilian program manager and
senior systems engineer with the Navy's Naval Sea Systems
Command (NAVSEA), and Anjan Dutta-Gupta, founder and president
of Advanced Solutions for Tomorrow.
The indictment alleges that the two men participated in a
kickback and bribery scheme in which Dutta-Gupta funneled
approximately $10 million to Mariano, Mariano's relatives, and
Mariano's associates in return for Mariano's role in the
funding of Naval contracts to ASFT.
The affidavit said the Navy ordered $13.5 billion in work
from a subcontractor to Dutta-Gupta's firm, mostly for work
that was not performed.
The subcontractor, over a period of years, allegedly kicked
back about $10 million to Mariano, Mariano's relatives and
associates, and back to entities controlled by Dutta-Gupta,
according to the U.S. attorney's office.
"A $10 million heist is a major crime, whether the money is
taken with a gun or with a keyboard," said Kirk Greffen, the
acting special agent in charge for the Naval Criminal
Investigative Service field office in Newport, Rhode Island.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal-Esa; Editing by Gary Hill)