Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

United States Sues Virginia-based Contractor Triple Canopy for False Claims Under Contract for Security in Iraq

Allegedly Billed US for Security Guards Who Did Not Meet Contract Requirements

Contractor Faked Guard Weapon Tests In Iraq, US Says

Department of Justice  October 31, 2012

The United States has filed a complaint against a Virginia-based contractor alleging that the company submitted false claims for unqualified security guards under a contract to provide security in Iraq, the Justice Department announced today. The company, Triple Canopy Inc. is headquartered in Reston, Va.

In June 2009, the Joint Contracting Command in Iraq/Afghanistan (JCC-I/A) awarded Triple Canopy a one-year, $10 million contract to perform a variety of security services at Al Asad Airbase – the second largest air base in Iraq. The multi-national JCC-I/A was established by U.S. Central Command in November 2004, to provide contracting support related to the government’s relief and reconstruction efforts in Iraq.

The government’s complaint alleges that Triple Canopy knowingly billed the United States for hundreds of foreign nationals it hired as security guards who could not meet firearms proficiency tests established by the Army and required under the contract. The tests ensure that security guards hired to protect U.S. and allied personnel are capable of firing their AK-47 assault rifles and other weapons safely and accurately. The government also alleges that Triple Canopy’s managers in Iraq falsified test scorecards as a cover up to induce the government to pay for the unqualified guards, and that Triple Canopy continued to bill the government even after high-level officials at the company’s headquarters had been alerted to the misconduct. The complaint further alleges that Triple Canopy used the false qualification records in an attempt to persuade the JCC-I/A to award the company a second year of security work at the Al Asad Airbase.

“For a government contractor to knowingly provide deficient security services, as is alleged in this case, is unthinkable, especially in war time,” said Stuart F. Delery, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division of the Department of Justice. “The department will do everything it can to ensure that contractors comply with critical contract requirements and that contractors who don’t comply aren’t permitted to profit at the expense of our men and women in uniform and the taxpayers at home who support them.”

“We will not tolerate government contractors anywhere in the world who seek to defraud the United States through deliberate or reckless conduct that violates contractual requirements and risks the security of government personnel,” said Neil H. MacBride, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.

The government’s claims are based on a whistleblower suit initially filed by a former employee of Triple Canopy in 2011. The suit was filed under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provision of the False Claims Act, which allows private persons to file suit on behalf of the United States. Under the act, the government has a period of time to investigate the allegations and decide whether to intervene in the action or to decline intervention and allow the whistleblower to go forward alone.

This matter was investigated by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia; the Commercial Litigation Branch of the Justice Department’s Civil Division; and the Army Criminal Investigative Command (CID) and Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) of the Department of Defense.

The claims asserted against Triple Canopy are allegations only; there has been no determination of liability. The government is not aware of any injuries that occurred as a result of the alleged misconduct.

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Alexandria, and is captioned United States ex rel. Badr v. Triple Canopy, Inc.

November 1, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, Department of Defense, Government Contractor, Iraq, Lawsuits, Private Security Contractor, Safety and Security Issues, Vetting Employees, Whistleblower | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

DOJ to seek new indictment in Blackwater shooting

WASHINGTON AP  

The Justice Department plans to bring a new indictment against four Blackwater Worldwide guards involved in a 2007 shooting that killed 17 Iraqis.

U.S. District Judge Ricardo Urbina had thrown out the case in 2009, but an appeals court reinstated the charges last year.

Urbina, who has since retired, said prosecutors built their case on sworn statements the guards had given under a promise of immunity.

A Justice Department attorney told Judge Royce Lamberth on Wednesday that a special team will ensure that prosecutors working on the new indictment don’t have access to “privileged statements.” Prosecutors say they will seek a superseding indictment after gathering additional evidence.

The guards are accused of opening fire in a crowded Baghdad intersection in 2007.

 

July 26, 2012 Posted by | Blackwater, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, Iraq, Lawsuits, Legal Jurisdictions, Private Security Contractor | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

USDOJ: Maersk Line to Pay Us $31.9 Million to Resolve False Claims Allegations for Inflated Shipping Costs to Military in Afghanistan and Iraq

7th Space January 3, 2012

WASHINGTON – Maersk Line Limited has agreed to pay the government $31.9 million to resolve allegations that it submitted false claims to the United States in connection with contracts to transport cargo in shipping containers to support United States troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Justice Department announced today

The government alleges that Maersk, a wholly-owned American subsidiary of Denmark-based A.P. Moller Maersk, knowingly overcharged the Department of Defense to transport thousands of containers from ports to inland delivery destinations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The government contends that Maersk inflated its invoices in various ways. For example, Maersk allegedly billed in excess of the contractual rate to maintain the operation of refrigerated containers holding perishable cargo at a port in Karachi, Pakistan, and at United States military bases in Afghanistan; allegedly billed excessive detention charges (or late fees) by failing to account for cargo transit times and a contractual grace period; allegedly billed for container delivery delays improperly attributed to the United States government; allegedly billed for container GPS-tracking and security services that were not provided or only partially provided; and allegedly failed to credit the government for rebates of container storage fees received by Maersk’s subcontractor at a Kuwaiti port.

“Our men and women in uniform overseas deserve the highest level of support provided by fair and honest contractors,” said Tony West, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division of the Department of Justice. “As the Justice Department’s continuing efforts to fight procurement fraud demonstrate, those who put profits over the welfare of members of our military will pay a hefty price.”

The settlement resolves allegations against Maersk that were filed in San Francisco by Jerry H. Brown II, a former industry insider. The lawsuit was filed under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act, which permit private individuals called “relators” to bring lawsuits on behalf of the United States and receive a portion of the proceeds of a settlement or judgment awarded against a defendant. The relator in this action will receive $3.6 million as his statutory share of the proceeds of this settlement. In 2009, the United States resolved the relator’s allegations against shipping company APL Limited and its parent company for $26.3 million.

“Contractors that submit false claims for monies they are not owed cost the government millions of dollars every year,” said Melinda Haag, United States Attorney for the Northern District of California. “This settlement should send a strong signal that the government is committed to safeguarding taxpayer funds by ensuring that contractors operate ethically and responsibly.”

Please read the entire story here

January 3, 2012 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Corruption, Contractor Oversight, Follow the Money, Government Contractor, Whistleblower | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Arlington Cemetery’s mishandling of remains prompts FBI criminal probe

Jerry Markone and Christian Davenport at The Washington Post   June 28, 2011

The Justice Department is investigating the mishandling of remains at Arlington National Cemetery in a broad criminal inquiry that is also seeking evidence of possible contracting fraud and falsification of records, people familiar with the investigation said Tuesday.

A federal grand jury in Alexandria has been subpoenaing witnesses and records relating to the scandal at the nation’s most venerated military burial ground, sources said. The investigation, conducted by the FBI and the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command, has been underway for at least six months, according to sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

The Justice Department’s investigation significantly escalates the level of scrutiny faced by the cemetery, and the probe joins several ongoing inquiries by Congress, which last year passed a law mandating that the cemetery verify that remains are properly accounted for at every one of its 330,000 graves. The law also requires the Government Accountability Office to look into the cemetery’s contract management procedures, and whether the Army-run cemetery should be turned over to the Department of Veterans Affairs, which oversees 131 national cemeteries.

In a report released last June, the Army inspector general found widespread problems at the cemetery: a dysfunctional management system; millions wasted on information technology contracts that produced useless results; misplaced and misidentified remains; and at least four cases in which crematory urns had been dug up and dumped in a dirt pile.

Please read the entire story at the Washington Post

June 29, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Government Contractor | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Justice joins lawsuit against Defense contractor KBR

See Also at MsSparky with the Complaint

Robert Brodsky at GovExec February 22, 2011

The Justice Department has intervened in a false claims lawsuit against KBR Inc., one of the Defense Department’s largest contractors, claiming the goliath logistics firm made illegal payments to a Turkish subcontractor.

On Friday, the government joined a lawsuit first filed in February 2007 by a KBR whistleblower who claimed the former Halliburton subsidiary violated the False Claims Act in connection with the Army’s third-generation Logistics Civil Augmentation Program contract.

“Contractors hired to provide support to our men and women in uniform must play by the rules,” said Tony West, assistant attorney general for the civil division of the Justice Department. “As we’ve done today, the Justice Department will take action against those whom we believe charge the taxpayers for goods and services that were not provided to American troops.”

Under the mammoth LOGCAP III contract, KBR provides a host of logistics and support services to troops in Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan, including meals, water, mail, sanitation, fuel and showers. KBR performs the LOGCAP III contract largely through subcontractorsPlease read the entire article here

February 22, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Corruption, Department of Defense, Halliburton, Iraq, KBR, Whistleblower | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hiding Details of Dubious Deal, U.S. Invokes National Security

by Eric Lightblau and James Risen at The New York Times

WASHINGTON — For eight years, government officials turned to Dennis Montgomery, a California computer programmer, for eye-popping technology that he said could catch terrorists. Now, federal officials want nothing to do with him and are going to extraordinary lengths to ensure that his dealings with Washington stay secret.

The Justice Department, which in the last few months has gotten protective orders from two federal judges keeping details of the technology out of court, says it is guarding state secrets that would threaten national security if disclosed. But others involved in the case say that what the government is trying to avoid is public embarrassment over evidence that Mr. Montgomery bamboozled federal officials.

A onetime biomedical technician with a penchant for gambling, Mr. Montgomery is at the center of a tale that features terrorism scares, secret White House briefings, backing from prominent Republicans, backdoor deal-making and fantastic-sounding computer technology.

Interviews with more than two dozen current and former officials and business associates and a review of documents show that Mr. Montgomery and his associates received more than $20 million in government contracts by claiming that software he had developed could help stop Al Qaeda’s next attack on the United States. But the technology appears to have been a hoax, and a series of government agencies, including the Central Intelligence Agency and the Air Force, repeatedly missed the warning signs, the records and interviews show.

Please see the entire story here

February 21, 2011 Posted by | Government Contractor | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Contractor Louis Berger settles in Afghan overbilling probe

By WARREN P. STROBEL AND MARISA TAYLOR

McClatchy Newspapers at Kansas City com

One of the government’s highest profile American contractors in Afghanistan has agreed to pay tens of millions of dollars to settle allegations that it overbilled the U.S. government.

In return, the Justice Department will end its investigation into allegations that Louis Berger was intentionally overcharging American taxpayers, individuals close to the investigation told McClatchy Newspapers on Thursday. The settlement, which could be as high as $65 million, would include civil and criminal penalties.

Holly Fisher, a company spokeswoman, declined to comment on the settlement. A spokeswoman with the U.S. attorney’s office in New Jersey, which is overseeing the case, also declined to comment.

The settlement is part of a deferred prosecution agreement, which means that the government retains its right to reopen the investigation if the company engages in future wrongdoing.

Louis Berger’s alleged overbilling, a practice that dates to at least the mid-1990s, swelled to tens of millions in lost tax dollars, McClatchy Newspapers first reported earlier this year.

In 2006, a former Louis Berger employee handed the government evidence against the company, two months before the U.S. Agency for International Development tapped Louis Berger to jointly oversee $1.4 billion in reconstruction contracts in Afghanistan.

It’s unclear whether the settlement would impact the company’s current operations in Afghanistan.

U.S. government officials, who asked to remain anonymous because of the sensitivity of the matter, said that the company continues to be the subject of separate ongoing investigations with regard to its work in Afghanistan.

Louis Berger spokeswoman Fisher issued this statement: “The Louis Berger Group/Black & Veatch Joint Venture is not withdrawing from Afghanistan. We are committed to successfully completing our work on behalf of USAID for the Afghan people, while ensuring the safety of all people working on these important projects.”

Court documents, however, revealed that the Justice Department has been negotiating a deal that would “aid in preserving the company’s continuing eligibility to participate” in federal contracting in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

The whistleblower case, known as a qui tam lawsuit, is sealed in federal court because of the ongoing criminal investigation.

McClatchy Newspapers previously was able to piece together more details about the case by reviewing government documents and speaking to officials who insisted on anonymity because the case is under seal.

That review found that Louis Berger is accused of manipulating overhead cost data and overhead rate proposals submitted to the U.S. government and several states including Massachusetts, Nevada and Virginia.

In some instances the company is accused of shifting overhead costs from private clients to federal and state contracts, where they were less likely to be noticed.

In August 2007, federal agents raided Louis Berger’s home office in New Jersey. Two former senior officials were targeted in the investigation.

Founded in 1953, Louis Berger Group does engineering and construction-related work domestically and in about 80 countries worldwide, according to the company’s website. It has more than 5,000 employees and is headquartered in Morristown, N.J. Please see the original story here

November 4, 2010 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Corruption, Contractor Oversight | , , , , | Leave a comment

U.S. views sought in Iraqi contractor torture case

WASHINGTON (Reuters) The Supreme Court on Monday asked the U.S. government for its views about a lawsuit claiming that employees of two defense contractors took part in the torture and abuse of Iraqis at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

A group of Iraqis appealed to the high court seeking to reinstate their lawsuit against CACI International Inc, which provided interrogators at Abu Ghraib, and L-3 Communications Holdings Inc’s Titan unit, which provided interpreters to the U.S. military.

The lawsuit was filed in 2004 on behalf of the Iraqis who say they or their relatives had been tortured or mistreated while detained by the U.S. military at the Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad. They said contractor employees participated in the abuse, a claim denied by the companies.

A federal appeals court dismissed the lawsuit because the companies had immunity as government contractors. It also said the suit was pre-empted by U.S. national security and foreign policy law.

In appealing to the Supreme Court, attorneys for the Iraqis argued that victims of torture may proceed with lawsuits against private parties, and that corporations can be held liable for torture under international law.

But attorneys for CACI and L-3 opposed the appeal, said the appeals court’s rejection of the claims was correct, and argued that further review of the case by the Supreme Court was unwarranted.

On the first day of its new term, the Supreme Court issued a brief order asking the Justice Department to file a brief in the case expressing the views of the U.S. government.  Original here

October 4, 2010 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, Iraq | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Army helmet recall stems from legal probe

By ANNE FLAHERTY (AP) – Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Army says its recall of 44,000 combat helmets last week resulted from a Justice Department investigation into an Ohio-based military contractor called ArmorSource.

The Army told reporters Monday it decided to retest the helmets after learning about the legal probe. Army officials said the tests showed that the helmets would not protect a solider against a rare but “worst case scenario” of being hit by multiple gun shots at a specific angle.

Army officials say they don’t know of any injuries related to the recalled helmets, which have been distributed to soldiers worldwide. Some have been discovered already in Afghanistan.

US Army recalls helmets amid probe into contractor

WASHINGTON — The US Army has recalled 44,000 helmets that failed ballistic tests and federal authorities are investigating the firm that manufactured them, officers said on Monday.

The helmets, made by ArmorSource in Hebron, Ohio, were issued to American troops since 2007, including an unknown number of soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, Brigadier General Pete Fuller told reporters.

“We don’t know where they (helmets) are. So they could be on some soldier’s head in either Iraq or Afghanistan. They could also be anywhere else in the world,” Fuller said.

The move came amid a probe by the Justice Department, which launched an investigation in January into ArmorSource’s helmet contract, and after a recent round of tests raised concerns, Fuller said.

The helmets were subjected to “worst case scenarios” at a Maryland shooting range and while they failed to meet the army’s standards, the test results gave no indication soldiers would be at risk of lethal injury, officers said.

“In ballistic tests, the helmets fell short of the Army standards, not by much, but the standards are absolute. And if you don’t meet them, you don’t meet them,” said Colonel William Cole.

The test results on the helmet came a day after the Justice Department officials provided “critical additional details” about their investigation, prompting the Pentagon to launch the recall, Fuller said.

Officials declined to offer details of the Justice Department investigation.

The military had an ample supply of the same helmets made by three other contractors that would allow troops to exchange the recalled helmets manufactured by ArmorSource, officers said.

Some soldiers in Afghanistan had already exchanged their helmets after commanders were notified last Thursday.

“We’re doing due diligence… (because) a vendor under investigation might not have done all they should have done, we wanted to ensure there’s no risk ever put to our soldiers,” Fuller said.

“So we’re recalling all the helmets associated with that vendor.”

The army first had concerns about the contractor’s work last year as paint on the helmet was peeling off, said Fuller, who oversees equipping army troops.

The Advanced Combat Helmet is standard issue for all Army troops and is also used by the Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard. The Marine Corps use a slightly lighter version that has also been recalled, but those helmets had not been distributed yet, officers said.

The 44,000 recalled helmets — which cost 250 dollars each — represent about four percent of the total number of Advanced Combat Helmets in the military’s inventory, Fuller said.

Under an August 2006 contract, ArmorSource manufactured 102,000 helmets. Of that number, 44,000 were distributed to troops and have been recalled, while 55,000 are still in storage and the military refused to accept the remaining 3,000, Fuller said.

As a result of the tests and ongoing investigation, all the helmets made by ArmorSource in the military’s inventory will be destroyed, he said.

May 17, 2010 Posted by | Afghanistan, Contractor Corruption | , , | 2 Comments

U.S. Sues Kellogg, Brown & Root for Alleged False Claims Act Violations Over Improper Costs for Private Security In Iraq

WASHINGTON, April 1 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The United States has filed a lawsuit against Kellogg Brown & Root Services (KBR) alleging that the defense contractor violated the False Claims Act, the Justice Department announced today. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, alleges that KBR knowingly included impermissible costs for private armed security in billings to the Army under the Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP) III contract. The LOGCAP III contract provides for civilian contractor logistical support, such as food services, transportation, laundry and mail, for military operations in Iraq.

The government’s lawsuit alleges that some 33 KBR subcontractors, as well as the company itself, used private armed security at various times during the 2003-2006 time period. KBR allegedly violated the LOGCAP III contract by failing to obtain Army authorization for arming subcontractors and by allowing the use of private security contractors who were not registered with the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior. The subcontractors using private security are alleged to have also violated subcontract terms requiring travel only in military convoys. The government’s lawsuit further alleges that at the time, KBR managers considered the use of private security unacceptable and were concerned that the Army would disallow any costs for such services. KBR nonetheless charged the United States for the costs of the unauthorized services.

“Defense contractors cannot ignore their contractual obligations to the military and pass along improper charges to the United States,” said Tony West, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division of the Department of Justice. “We are committed to ensuring that the Department of Defense’s rules are enforced and that funds so vital to the war effort are not misused.”

This case is being brought as part of a National Procurement Fraud Initiative. In October 2006, the Deputy Attorney General announced the formation of a National Procurement Fraud Task Force designed to promote the early detection, identification, prevention and prosecution of procurement fraud associated with the increase in government contracting activity for national security and other government programs. The Procurement Fraud Task Force is chaired by the Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division and includes the Civil Division, U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, the FBI, the U.S. Inspectors General community, and a number of other federal law enforcement agencies.

Along with the Justice Department’s Civil Division, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, Army Criminal Investigation Division and, FBI participated in the investigation of this matter. This case, as well as others brought by members of the task force, demonstrates the Department of Justice’s commitment to helping ensure the integrity of the government procurement process.

SOURCE U.S. Department of Justice

April 1, 2010 Posted by | KBR, Private Security Contractor | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment