Top US government purchaser guilty of 'lying'

5 July 2006
More legal news

06 July 2006 | Paul Snell

The former head of procurement policy at the White House has been found guilty of lying and obstructing justice by a US court.

David Safavian, who has held top positions in US public procurement, was convicted by the US District Court for the District of Columbia on 20 June of three counts of making false statements and one of obstructing justice. He was acquitted on another count of obstructing justice.

Until his resignation in September 2005, Safavian was the administrator of federal procurement policy at the office of budget management, which is responsible for public purchasing policy in the US.

The prosecution focused on a golf trip to Scotland that Safavian took with a Washington lobbyist. This took place when Safavian was the chief of staff at the General Services Administration (GSA), the US federal government's procurement agency.

Safavian asked a GSA ethics officer if he could go but told him the lobbyist had no business with the GSA. But at the time the lobbyist was attempting to lease buildings managed by the GSA for a client. Had he known, the GSA ethics officer would not have allowed Safavian to take the trip with a "prohibited source".

The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of the GSA, investigated the trip following a tip-off. At that point Safavian again falsely claimed the lobbyist had no business with the GSA. Several investigations followed which led to the court case at the US district court in Washington DC.

Safavian was found guilty on the counts of lying to a GSA ethics official, lying to the GSA's OIG, lying to the senate's Indian affairs committee and obstructing the investigation of the OIG.

He will be sentenced on 12 October. Each count carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and/or a hefty fine.







SMjul2006

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