by Ben Vernia | July 7th, 2011
On July 7, the Department of Justice announced a settlement in a qui tam suit brought against a security contractor in Afghanistan. According to DOJ’s press release:
Armor Group North America Inc. (AGNA) and its affiliates have paid the United States $7.5 million to resolve allegations that AGNA submitted false claims for payment on a State Department contract to provide armed guard services at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, the Justice Department announced today. The settlement resolves U.S. claims that in 2007 and 2008, AGNA guards violated the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) by visiting brothels in Kabul, and that AGNA’s management knew about the guards’ activities. The settlement also resolves allegations that AGNA misrepresented the prior work experience of 38 third country national guards it had hired to guard the Embassy, and that AGNA failed to comply with certain Foreign Ownership, Control and Influence mitigation requirements on the embassy contract, and on a separate contract to provide guard services at a Naval Support Facility in Bahrain.
The settlement resolves a whistleblower suit filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The lawsuit was initially filed under seal by James Gordon against AGNA, ArmorGroup International plc, G4S plc and Wackenhut Services Inc. 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. Mr. Gordon will receive $1.35 million of the settlement proceeds. During 2007 and early 2008, Mr. Gordon was employed by AGNA, as its director of operations.
The case remained under seal to permit the United States to investigate the allegations and determine whether it would join the lawsuit. Under the False Claims Act, the United States may recover three times the amount of its losses, plus civil penalties. On April 29, 2011, the United States joined the suit.
The relator’s reward represents an 18% share of the recovery.