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Decade-old whistle-blower suit scheduled for trial

A whistle-blower suit originally filed in 1995 is scheduled to go to trial in early 2007. The suit, filed under the qui tam provisions of the Federal False Claims Act, alleges that Bill Harbert International Construction submitted fraudulent bills for construction work in the Middle East that were paid by the U.S. Agency for International Development. The work stemmed from the Camp David Peace Accords.

The company paid $54 million in 2002 to settle similar criminal charges, though without admitting wrongdoing.

The whistle-blower suit says the construction companies conspired to rig bids for the contracts, developing fictitious pre-construction costs and complex arrangements that purported to sell and lease building equipment, but which really hid secret payments that were spread among the conspirators.

Additional details were published in the December 13, 2006 edition of the Birmingham News.

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