By Debbie Gregory.

Three former executives linked to one of the largest U.S. wartime contractors were charged with scheming to defraud the Pentagon and engage in illicit trade by routing supplies for a multi-billion dollar contract through Iran, a country currently under sanctions by the U.S. government.

The indictment alleges that Abul Huda Farouki, Mazen Farouki and Salah Maarouf conspired to shave costs off the construction of two warehouses at Bagram Airfield by shipping steel through Iran.

The three men, all in their 70s, appeared in federal court in the District of Columbia and pleaded not guilty to the charges of major fraud, conspiracy, international money laundering and other violations.

Abul Farouki, of McLean, VA., and his younger brother, Mazen Farouki, of Boyce, VA., headed Anham, LLC, which had bid for an $8 billion contract in 2011 to build warehouses at Bagram Air Field to store food for troops, according to the indictment. Maarouf operated one of Anham’s suppliers.

The company won the contract with promises to build two warehouses by December 2011, but as the deadline approached, the warehouses were nowhere close to being finishedAnham denied all charges, saying it had saved the U.S. government $1.4 billion by offering lower prices than its competitors. It said the company was confident all the defendants would be exonerated at the end of the judicial process.

“ANHAM continues to cooperate with the Justice Department. Nevertheless, the company continues to believe that the purported violations are without legal merit,” the company said in a statement on its website.

Anham’s contract to supply food and water to the U.S. military had a $30 billion ceiling in the unlikely event the war ramped up again. At the time, the Obama administration was focused on rapidly withdrawing troops and equipment from Afghanistan to reduce the military’s presence to fewer than 10,000 troops by 2014.