WASHINGTON, July 14 (UPI) -- The U.S. ambassador to Albania says he's being unfairly targeted by a congressional investigation into arms procurement fraud.
U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has accused Ambassador John Withers II of approving a plan to cover up an alleged fraudulent deal to supply U.S. troops in Afghanistan with antiquated Chinese munitions, The Los Angeles Times reported Monday.
Withers says that far from covering up anything, he and his U.S. Embassy staff have worked with criminal prosecutors in tracking down how 22-year-old arms dealer Efraim Diveroli allegedly conspired to substitute cheap replacements stored in Albania for the real supplies specified in a $298 million Pentagon contract.
Waxman said his sources told him Withers held a meeting with an Albanian official allegedly to work out a coverup, but Withers has strenuously denied it and has lined up several witnesses to back his claim, the newspaper reported. It said the ambassador wrote Waxman Saturday requesting a meeting "to refute the unfounded aspersions that have been cast upon the reputations of an outstanding and dedicated cadre of public officials."