US intervenes in whistleblower case against USAID contractor

by Ben Vernia | October 22nd, 2012

On October 19, the Department of Justice announced that it was intervening in a lawsuit filed in the District of Columbia by a qui tam relator against a contractor to the U.S. Agency for International Development. According to DOJ’s press release:

The United States has filed a complaint against Jacintoport International LLC under the False Claims Act in connection with a warehousing and logistics contract for the storage and redelivery of humanitarian food aid, the Justice Department announced today. Jacintoport is a cargo handling and stevedoring firm headquartered in Houston.

As alleged in the government’s complaint, Jacintoport entered into a warehousing and logistics contract with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) for the storage and redelivery of emergency humanitarian food aid in 2007. This contract, among other things, contained explicit caps on the rates Jacintoport could charge to load humanitarian food aid onto ships (referred to in the industry as “stevedoring” charges) bound for crisis areas around the world. The complaint alleges that beginning around January 2008 and continuing through at least October 2009, Jacintoport regularly exceeded these caps, resulting in inflated charges to the United States in connection with the delivery of more than 50 thousand tons of humanitarian food aid.

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