Company accused of "overbilling" Pentagon's biggest foreign food supplier

A company accused of grossly overcharging the US military and illegally shipping goods through Iran is the biggest supplier of food to US troops stationed abroad, the Bureau can reveal.

Anham has earned $3.3bn in "subsistence" contracts for the Pentagon since 2010, according to procurement data analysed by the Bureau. 

The Dubai-based company was accused in 2011 by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR), the US watchdog, of "egregious examples of overbilling". Instances of improper charges included $900 for a control switch, a 12,000% mark-up, said a SIGIR report, and $80 for a small segment of drainpipe worth $1.41. 

It was also accused of multiple other problems including  "questionable competition practices" and "possible ownership affiliations" with subcontractors. 

Anham is now embroiled in a lawsuit in which it is accused by a competitor of transporting goods to Afghanistan through Iran, in contravention of sanctions, and of misleading the US government about the construction of a warehouse.

The company strenuously denies both the 2011 and the recent allegations. A move by Anham to dismiss the current case was rejected by a Virginia district court judge last month.

The Bureau traced Anham's revenue from a group of contracts using a bespoke database we have built which allows us to search more than 15 million transactions between the US Defense Department and the private sector dating back to 2009.

Dubai company Anham initially provided military equipment for the Iraqi army before picking up contracts for food supply in Iraq in 2010 and Afghanistan in 2012. 

The contracts were given to Anham in the wake of legal problems for the previous suppliers, Agility and Supreme Group. Agility was barred from recompeting for the Iraq contract in 2009 following an indictment for fraudulent accounting, while Supreme Group pleaded guilty to inflating the prices of goods sold to the military in Afghanistan in 2012.

Supreme Group is the complainant in the case against Anham currently being heard in Virginia.

Food supply is a critical and highly lucrative part of US military operations in the Middle East. Three companies, all based in the United Arab Emirates, currently have the contracts in the region, with Anham by far the biggest player.

In the first three months of 2017 alone, Anham, Seven Seas Shipchandlers and Ocean Fair International have between them provided $190m of food. 

Of this, $150m of this went to Anham. Its deliveries included over $40m of beef and $20m of chicken in various forms, $6.5m of fish and crustaceans, $12m of drinking water, as well as flour, eggs, pork, vegetables, fruit, cereals and many other products. 

The large payouts for food supply have propelled UAE-based companies to the top of the list of foreign service providers to the military. Since 2014, sales from the UAE have averaged $1.65bn per year, outstripping other major sellers such as Japan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Germany and Canada.

Contracts to provide food for the military in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait, Jordan, the Arabian Peninsula and East Africa are currently up for renewal. Documents show the US military requires food supply in 30 different sites in Afghanistan alone.