Virginia-based contractor ADS Inc. and its subsidiaries have agreed to pay $16 million to settle allegations that they violated the False Claims Act by knowingly conspiring with and causing purported small businesses to submit false claims for payment in connection with fraudulently obtained small business contracts, the Department of Justice announced last week.
The settlement also resolves allegations that ADS engaged in improper bid rigging relating to certain of the fraudulently obtained contracts. The settlement with ADS ranks as one of the largest recoveries involving alleged fraud in connection with small business contracting eligibility.
In order to qualify as a small business, companies must meet defined eligibility criteria, including requirements concerning size, ownership, and operational control. The settlement with ADS resolves allegations that ADS, together with several purported small businesses that it controlled, fraudulently induced the government to award certain small business set-aside contracts by misrepresenting eligibility requirements. The purported small businesses affiliated with ADS include Mythics Inc., London Bridge Trading Co. Ltd., as well as MJL Enterprises LLC, which falsely claimed to be an eligible service-disabled veteran-owned company, and SEK Solutions LLC and Karda Systems LLC, both of which falsely claimed to qualify as socially or economically disadvantaged businesses under the Small Business Administration’s 8(a) Business Development Program. ADS and its affiliates allegedly concealed the companies’ affiliations with ADS and knowingly made misrepresentations concerning the size of the businesses and their eligibility as service-disabled or 8(a) qualified businesses. Finally, the settlement resolves allegations that ADS engaged in illegal bid rigging schemes that inflated or distorted prices charged to the government under certain contracts.
The settlement with ADS resolves a lawsuit filed under the whistleblower provision of the False Claims Act, which permits private parties to file suit on behalf of the United States for false claims and share in a portion of the government’s recovery. The civil lawsuit was filed in federal district court in the District of Columbia by Ameliorate Partners LLP. As part of today’s resolution, the whistleblower will receive approximately $2.9 million.
The settlement is the result of a coordinated effort among the Civil Division’s Commercial Litigation Branch, the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices for the District of Columbia and the Eastern District of Virginia, the Small Business Administration’s Office of Inspector General, and the General Services Administration’s Office of Inspector General. The claims resolved by the settlement are allegations only, and there has been no determination of liability.