by Ben Vernia | July 15th, 2013
On July 12, the Department of Justice announced that Virginia-based Contrack International, one of three corporate defendants accused of submitting false claims relating to USAID contracts for infrastructure work in Egypt, has paid $3.5 million to settle its liability in the case. According to DOJ’s press release:
Contrack International Inc., a global design and construction company headquartered in McLean, Va., has agreed to pay $3.5 million to settle allegations that it submitted false claims in connection with U. S. Agency for International Development (USAID) contracts, the Justice Department announced today.
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The settlement concerns USAID-funded contracts for the construction of water and wastewater infrastructure projects in the Arab Republic of Egypt in the 1990s. The bidders for these contracts were required to receive prequalification and, in some cases, establish that they were U. S. companies. However, the contracts were ultimately performed by a joint venture partnership among Contrack; Washington Group International, Inc., a subsidiary of URS Corporation; and Misr Sons Development S.A.E. (Hassan Allam Sons), an Egyptian company. The government filed suit under the False Claims Act and the Foreign Assistance Act alleging that the joint venture partners evaded the prequalification requirement by concealing the identity of the joint venture partners, which prevented USAID from accurately evaluating their qualifications. As a result, the government alleged that Contrack and its partners received USAID-funded contracts for which they were ineligible.
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This settlement – which resolves only Contrack’s liability – 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. The government is continuing to pursue its claims against the other two defendants in the suit.