The U.S. military says two military contractors in Afghanistan have been suspended for failing to pay Afghan firms that they had hired as subcontractors.
The military identified the U.S.-owned contractors as Bennett-Fouch Associates and K5 Global. Both are owned by an American identified as Sarah Lee.
The military said in a statement Wednesday that several Afghan contractors had brought allegations against the two companies. The refusal to pay their subcontractors meant that several Afghan firms were left without money to pay their workers or complete their projects.
The statement says the local companies that brought the allegations provided documents showing that Bennett-Fouch had claimed it had not been paid by the U.S. government. However, the coalition says the U.S. government had paid Bennett-Fouch for the work on the construction projects, which included military bases.
The statement says the U.S. government was unable to reach the companies to address the allegations. It says that Bennett-Fouch had closed both its local offices and bank accounts in Afghanistan.
The military says the failure of firms to pay local subcontractors adversely affects counter-insurgency strategy.
The statement says U.S. law does not allow the government to pay contractors directly, adding that the firms were told that any legal recourse must be made through the U.S. court system.
The statement says the suspension will last for 18 months while the companies are being investigated. If the allegations are proven, the companies could be barred from further contracts for up to five years.