Obama's CIO Takes Leave Amid FBI Probe - InformationWeek

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3/13/2009
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Obama's CIO Takes Leave Amid FBI Probe

Federal authorities are investigating alleged bribery ring at Vivek Kundra's former D.C. office.

While the FBI investigates allegations of bribery and money laundering in his former workplace, federal CIO Vivek Kundra has taken leave from his job.

Just days after his appointment by President Barack Obama as the nation's top technology official, Kundra departed for an unspecified period. The White House Press Office confirmed his leave Friday, a day after the arrest of a District of Columbia employee who worked under Kundra last year.

A criminal complaint against 40-year-old Yusuf Acar accuses him of one count each of conspiracy to commit bribery, money laundering, wire fraud, and conflict of interest.

Kundra has not been accused of, or charged with, any crimes and law enforcement sources said Friday that he has not been implicated.

Court records state that Acar, the District's information system security officer, engaged in a variety of schemes to funnel money from contracts and payroll by filing inflated invoices and forging timecards for ghost employees.

The affidavit for arrest indicates that several other people were involved, although most were identified by initials only and at least one District of Columbia employee apparently cooperated with authorities.

Former city employee Sushil Bansal, 41, is the only other person who has been arrested, but the investigation is ongoing. The criminal complaint against Bansal alleges one count of conspiracy to commit bribery and one count of conspiracy to launder money. He has been released and admonished not to engage in foreign transactions.

It is unclear whether others identified in court records were aware of the alleged schemes and whether they were outside contractors or government employees.

Neither Kundra's name nor his initials appear anywhere in court records that were unsealed Thursday after Acar's arrest. Employees with the District of Columbia said they don't believe Kundra has been implicated, and sources with the Office of Management and Budget said Thursday that they aren't aware of any suspicion directed at Kundra.

However, at the very least, the charges could represent a distraction while Kundra attempts to ensure security and accountability for all of the federal government's technology and IT systems. He served as the District of Columbia's CTO in 2008, overseeing Acar and nearly 300 other employees, when the criminal activity allegedly occurred.

Neither the OMB nor the White House would immediately respond to questions about the reasons for Kundra's leave, the length of it, nor who will take over his responsibilities. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters Thursday that the administration was aware of the investigation but he would not say when they learned about it. He referred to it as a "serious matter."

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