CIA Contractors American Systems, Anixter and Corning Pay $3M in Whistleblower Case

WASHINGTON, DC – Phillips & Cohen represented the whistleblower in the False Claims Act case discussed below against American Systems Corp., Anixter International Inc. and Corning Cable Systems LLC. Here is the U.S. Department of Justice press release issued March 7, 2013, about the settlement.

CIA Contractors Settle False Claims Act and Kickback Allegations for $3 Million

United States Alleges Companies Provided Government Employees with Meals and Entertainment to Steer Contract Award

The Justice Department announced today that American Systems Corporation, Anixter International Inc., and Corning Cable Systems LLC have agreed to pay the United States $3 million to settle allegations that they violated the False Claims Act and the Anti-Kickback Act in bidding on a contract with the CIA.

The settlement announced today resolves claims against these contractors related to a CIA contract awarded to American Systems in early 2009 to provide supplies and services. American Systems teamed with Anixter to bid on the contract with Corning as a supplier. The United States alleged that American Systems, Anixter and Corning provided gratuities, including meals, entertainment, gifts and tickets to sporting and other events, to CIA employees and outside consultants in order to influence contract specifications that would favor the three companies in the award of the contract. The settlement also resolves allegations that the three companies improperly received source selection information from a CIA employee to whom they had provided gratuities, and that they had concealed the gratuities prior to award.

“This settlement shows that the United States will protect the integrity of the federal procurement process from the wrongful activities of unscrupulous contractors,” said Stuart F. Delery, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Justice, Civil Division. “Plying government officials with meals and entertainment to gain favorable treatment in the award of federal contracts corrupts the procurement process and will not be allowed.”

“Improper gifts and gratuities paid to government officials are a corrupting influence on government contracts. Combating this type of conduct is a high priority in the Eastern District of Virginia,” said U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Neil MacBride.

“This case clearly reflects that the CIA will respond effectively to allegations of fraud affecting agency programs,” said CIA Inspector General David B. Buckley. “My office treats contract fraud and related employee misconduct as one of our top investigative priorities, and we work closely with agency employees and the Department of Justice to ensure that illegal acts are addressed in an effective manner.”

The allegations resolved by the settlement were initiated by a lawsuit filed in the Eastern District of Virginia under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act by former Anixter sales representative, William Jones. Under the False Claims Act, private citizens may sue on behalf of the United States for false claims and share in any recovery obtained by the government. Jones will receive $585,000 as his share of the government’s recovery.

This settlement was the result of a coordinated effort by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia; the Department of Justice, Civil Division, Commercial Litigation Branch; and the CIA, Office of Inspector General. The claims settled by this agreement are allegations only; there has been no determination of liability.

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