SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - Deloitte & Touche frightened an employee so badly he suffered a stroke after he warned it that a ranking Afghan official felt it was defrauding the Afghan and U.S. governments, the man claims in court.
Nazir Khalji, a U.S. citizen, sued Deloitte and its Afghanistan chief Gareth Davies in Federal Court. His claims of defamation, assault and wrongful firing stem from events he claims happened last year while he worked for Deloitte in Kabul.
Khalji claims that while he was trying to get a ministerial job in the Afghan government, Deloitte hired him to work on an economic rebuilding project funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development.
Under the USAID contract, Khalji was to be a tax policy adviser reporting directly to Afghanistan's deputy finance minister and to defendant Davies, according to the complaint.
The USAID contract called for Khalji to work on a value-added tax and software for the finance ministry, but Davies told him to ignore the contractual duties and "just use his influence and relationship to get the deputy minister to sign a USAID work plan," Khalji says in the lawsuit.
"To carry out this requirement by Davies on behalf of Deloitte, Davies ordered Khalji to present the plan to the deputy minister, who said that he was not going to approve or sign the plan because it did not help Afghanistan and that it was just bringing money to Americans, namely Deloitte," the complaint states.
Khalji claims Davies pressed him to return to the deputy minister several times for a signature. The minister eventually signed under protest and Khalji turned his focus to implementing the VAT tax, according to the complaint.
He claims he discovered - contrary to what Deloitte and Davies had told USAID and the deputy minister - that the VAT program was only 20 percent complete and would not be rolled out by its deadline.
Meanwhile, the tax software project had transparency issues and was only one-uarter finished, Khaji says, adding that he prepared a report documenting the problems and submitted it to Davies.
"A three-ring circus developed between Davies, Khalji and the deputy minister," Khalji says in the complaint. "Khalji prepared this report in an honest and forthright fashion in compliance with the USAID statement of work. He then presented this report to Davies, who made changes and returned the report to Khalji several times. The deputy minister was asking Khalji where the report was and requesting that he provide it to him as required by the USAID statement of work. Davies was communicating with the deputy minister as well and while he had forbidden Khalji to give the report to the minister he was talking out of the other side of his mouth and telling the minister words to the effect of 'I don't know why Mr. Khalji has failed to give you the report.' This three-ring circus continued throughout February 2013. Davies played and continued to play an intentional and malicious manipulative double-sided game between Khalji and the deputy minister."
Khalji claims Davies' game became threatening after the deputy minister pressured Khalji into giving up the report. But that meeting never happened, Khalji claims, and he returned to his security vehicle to find a Deloitte security detail waiting for him.
"When Khalji got into the security vehicle, two Global security guards told him that they were under orders to take him to Davies' office and that he was not free to leave them," Khalji says in the complaint. "These two guards were both heavily armed and Khalji was not armed. He had no option but to follow their orders and went with them under duress and fear of apprehension. They took him to the office that Davies occupied on the third floor of Deloitte's Kabul headquarters. There were armed guards on the ground floor and the second floor of the building. On the third floor, Neil Hindley - who was Deloitte's security chief in Kabul - was waiting, heavily armed, and stood by while Khalji met with Davies."
Khalji says Davies "dressed him down and used bad language" for trying to meet with the deputy finance minister. Davies then ordered Khalji to resign, gather his things and said Hindley would escort him to the Kabul airport for immediate expulsion from Afghanistan, according to the complaint.
"Khalji asked Davies what would happen if he did not resign, and he was told words to the effect that 'Neil [Hindley] would take care of you' - the inference being that Hindley would kill him," Khalji says in the complaint.
He says he pleaded for extra time, and Davies agreed to give him two days. Davies ordered he be kept under guard at all times and barred him from contacting anyone in the Afghan government, the complaint states.
A day later, Davies attended a meeting with Afghan and USAID officials and besmirched Khalji's work performance, according to the complaint. Two days after that, rather than face expulsion from his home country, Khalji says he fled to his private home in Kabul and turned off his Deloitte-issued GPS tracker.
"When the Global security guards and Khalji arrived at Khalji's family home in Kabul, they were met by Khalji's caretaker and two personal guards used regularly to guard the home," Khalji says in his complaint. "The Global security guards, on instructions from the Deloitte defendants, came onto Khalji's private property, surrounded his home and were all heavily armed.
"At that time one of the house personal guards telephoned Khalji's son Sean and told him what was happening. Sean immediately drove to the house and gathered a few more personal guards for protection on the way. On information and belief, Khalji alleges that Sean also told his personal guards there was to be no use of force."
When Khalji's son arrived, he was met by eight Deloitte guards - four from Global and four of their Afghan counterparts. He found one of the Global guards trying to enter the Khalji home, according to the complaint.
"This South African security guard in attempting to enter Khalji's home and having already without permission entered his land stated to Sean, 'I want to see your father.' Sean said, 'Why?' The South African, bald Global security guard said, 'I have orders from Davies and Hindley to take him back to Davies.' Sean then said to this Global security guard that his father did not feel well and could not go with him. This South African Global security guard responded saying, 'We are under orders from Deloitte and his is going with us regardless.' This statement was a threat to Sean, who was then put under orders as well, and against his will and in fear of apprehension forced to open the front door of the Khalji house. The South African Global security guard stood at the door of Khalji's home with his gun and stated that he was just doing what he had been ordered to do by Deloitte and Davies," Khalji's complaint states.
Khalji says he was lying on the couch as the guards came in, slipping in and out of consciousness, and told his son that "the foreigners are here to kill me." Sean responded by calling the medevac company Deloitte contracted with for a doctor and an ambulance.
The ambulance took Khalji - flanked by a passel of Global and Deloitte security vehicles - to the French hospital on the International Security Assistance Force base. Unfortunately for Davies, Hindley and the South African security officer, the base guards let Khalji's ambulance in but barred his escorts from entering the base and hospital, according to the complaint. Khalji spent a day in ICU on the base before being flown to Dubai for further treatment of a transient ischemic attack, also known as a mini stroke, the complaint states.
Khalji says he returned to his home in California on Feb. 18, 2013, 12 days after Davies ordered him to resign and leave Afghanistan. He has since been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder by his doctors at Stanford.
He accuses the defendants of defamation and slander per se, intentional infliction of emotional distress, false imprisonment, assault, trespass and wrongful firing. He seeks general damages of at least $3 million, and punitive damages.
Khalji is represented by Patricia Barlow of San Francisco.