Three companies settle bid-rigging False Claims Act allegations for $29 million

by Ben Vernia | February 9th, 2020

On January 31, the Department of Justice announced that three companies, accused by a whistleblower of colluding to fix bids for an underperforming loan owned by the Department of Energy, had agreed to pay $29 million to settle the case. According to DOJ’s press release:

Hybrid Tech Holdings LLC, Hybrid Technology LLC, and Ace Strength International LTD, have agreed to resolve allegations that they violated the False Claims Act by colluding to rig the bidding of an auction to purchase the United States Department of Energy’s non-performing loan to Fisker Automotive Inc. and Fisker Automotive Holdings Inc, the Department of Justice announced today.

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The government alleged that the defendants exerted pressure on the two other competing bidders to suppress their bids during the live auction, thereby depriving the Department of Energy of a fair bidding process and reducing the amount ultimately recovered in the auction.  As a result, the defendants were able to acquire the non-performing loan secured by the assets of Fisker Automotive for far less than the fair market value of the loan

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The settlements resolve allegations originally filed in a lawsuit by William R. Baldiga and the FAH Liquidating Trust, the successor to the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors of Fisker Automotive Holdings Inc.  The suit was filed in federal court in the District of Columbia pursuant to the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act, which permit private individuals to sue on behalf of the government for false claims and to share in any recovery.  Mr. Baldiga’s and the Trust’s share of the settlement will be $5,220,000.   

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