URS E & C Holdings, Inc. Agrees to Pay $9 Million to Resolve False Claims Act Allegations
The Obama administration’s ongoing crackdown against businesses that are alleged to have defrauded governmental agencies continues, even reaching companies that have ties to foreign and international entities. The Justice Department announced earlier this month that URS E & C Holdings Inc., a successor to Washington Group International Inc. (WGI), agreed to pay a $9 million settlement to resolve charges that it submitted false claims related to United States Agency for International (USAID) contracts. “This settlement protects the integrity of the federal procurement process. Whether a situation involves procurement fraud, as in this case, or healthcare fraud or any other type of fraud and dishonesty, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Idaho seeks to hold those obtaining public funds accountable,” said U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson for the District of Ohio.
The settlement involved USAID funded contracts for water and wastewater infrastructure projects in Egypt in the 1990s. The government alleged that a contract awarded between WGI, Contrack International and Misr Sons Development S.A.E. (HAS) – an Egyptian company was – violated the law because the partnership concealed from USAID the fact that these companies were in fact acting as partners. The government went on to allege that since HAS’s involvement in particular was not revealed – as is a precondition for the awarding of this contract – it prevented USAID from evaluating the partnership’s qualifications and eligibility.
As a result of these actions, the Justice Department maintained that WGI and its partners allegedly received USAID-funded contracts for which they were ineligible. The United States filed suit under the False Claims Act and the Foreign Assistance Act alleging that this union filed false claims. The settlement, while it resolved WGI’s liability, does not resolve claims the government has made against HAS. The government continues to pursue charges against HAS. The settlement was the result of a coordinated effort by the Department of Justice, Civil Division, Commercial Litigation Branch; the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Idaho; and the USAID Office of Inspector General. Persons, who feel they are entitled to whistleblower protection, should seek out the counsel of a qui tam attorney. A False Claims Act lawyer can advise you as to what rights you have under the law, what award you may be entitled to if any and how to protect your interest.