December 17, 2013 — The U.S. military and the Department of Defense are not immune from false claims by government contractors. When fraudulent claims are discovered, the federal False Claims Act’s qui tam provisions allow contractor insiders to take action themselves by filing suit for the government’s benefit. To reward informants who are courageous enough to do the right thing, the statute gives whistleblowers the right to a share of any recovery the U.S. government makes as a consequence of the suit.
Government Contractor Bribed U.S. Procurement Official to Get Contracts and Then Overcharged
Iraqi Consultants and Construction Bureau (ICCB) has reached a $2.7 million settlement to resolve False Claims Act allegations that the contractor paid off a U.S. government official to win U.S. government contracts during the Iraqi reconstruction effort. ICCB is a private construction company with headquarters in Baghdad.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, between 2007 and 2008, ICCB paid bribes to John Salama Markus, an Army Corps of Engineers procurement official. In return, Markus gave ICCB valuable information that the contractor used to bid on and win several Department of Defense construction contracts in Iraq. The projects involved were part of the Iraqi reconstruction effort and included the building of hospitals and schools as well as security and infrastructure projects. Once ICCB was awarded the contracts, it overcharged the U.S. for the work it did.
In September 2012, Markus pleaded guilty to wrongdoing involving over $50 million in U.S. government contracts awarded to foreign companies operating in Iraq. The charges against Markus included money laundering, wire fraud and failure to report a foreign bank account. Markus has been sentenced to a 13-year prison term.
Blowing the Whistle on False Claims by Military Contractors
Government contractor employees may be the first to learn of False Claims Act violations because they are often expected to take part. Rather than participate in a fraud against the government, however, many insiders decide to collaborate with the government by filing a False Claims Act lawsuit. At Waters & Kraus, we’ve frequently heard our whistleblower clients describe the intimidation they’ve experienced in the midst of a scheme to submit false claims to the U.S. government. We’ve helped other informants in your shoes. Contact us by email or phone our qui tam attorneys at 855.784.0268. With experienced lawyers in Texas, Maryland and California, we’re here to make the whistleblower process easier on you.