Louis Berger Group pays $69.3 million in Qui Tam Suit


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In what is being called an example of David vs. Goliath, an Afghanistan contractor has been ordered to pay $69.3 million fine. The sum is believed to be a record for a war zone settlement in Iraq and Afghanistan. The fine breaks down to $46.5 million to settle the whistleblower case, $4.1 million to settle contractual disputes and $18.7 million for a criminal fine.

The Louis Berger Group is one of the largest war zone engineering contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan and they are responsible for schools and infrastructure construction, repair and maintenance. The firm holds individual contracts that are sometimes in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Whistleblower Harold Salomon, a Haitian immigrant, resisted pressure to keep quiet. Under qui tam laws stemming from the Dodd-Frank Act and the False Claims Act whistleblowers are entitled to as much as 30% of the settlement. Mr. Salomon said recently that he plans to use part of his award for a nonprofit he founded in Haiti that provides healthcare and other services.

Salomon alleged that the Morristown, NJ firm used complex accounting schemes to billed the taxpayers for overhead and other costs that had nothing to do with the actual contracts. Evidence of the fraudulent actions included Cds full of data.

In a statement released through his attorneys Salomon said, “Today I can affirm to those who told me the Louis Berger Group can get away with anything that they were wrong. To those who said, ‘If you cannot beat them, you have to join them,’ I say they were wrong, too.”

The settlement allows LBG to continue it’s work that includes a contract from the U.S. Agency for International Development for $1.4 billion in conjunction with another contractor, Black and Veatch.

The whistleblower suit is yet another from the Afghan and Iraq war zones that also include settlements from Xe Services LLC, formerly Blackwater and KBR, formerly a subsidiary of the massive Halliburton corporation.

Even in the fight to bring freedom and goodwill construction to the world it is still necessary to have qui tam laws to keep companies from defrauding the taxpayers.







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