by David Phinney
Sunday October 25th 2020

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Greetings from Bangkok

Lots of new things to report from my travels to Manila. I met with government officials and former workers with First Kuwaiti Trading and Contracting.
I am told that First Kuwaiti is on a Philippine agency “watch list” for numerous complaints from workers about alleged labor trafficking into Iraq and horrid working and living conditions there. The company, which is now building the US embassy in Baghdad, has been on that list since mid-2005.
Apparently, the US State Department was unaware of these allegations, dismissed them, or just didn’t deem them substantial enough when it awarded the $592-million contract to First Kuwaiti. And why did First Kuwaiti get the contract when it was $60 million or more over the lowest bidder for the work? Some say First Kuwaiti was the only company that could deploy quickly enough. Others say First Kuwaiti had the inside track because it was awarded sole-source contract to first clean up the embassy site.

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