DOJ Announces $20 Million Settlement with Inchcape Shipping Services
By the C|C Whistleblower Lawyer Team
Yesterday, the Department of Justice announced a $20 million settlement with Inchcape Shipping Services Holdings Limited and several of its subsidiaries to resolve allegations that Inchcape overcharged for services provided to the Navy for nearly a decade. The case was filed in 2010 by three former Inchcape employees under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act. As a result of the settlement, the whistleblowers will receive $4.4 million.
Inchcape, a marine services provider based in the United Kingdom, was responsible for servicing U.S. Navy ships across the world under several government contracts. These contracts required Inchcape to provide numerous services, from orchestrating port and onshore assistance to securing food and waste-disposal providers, across thousands of ports used by the Navy. The lawsuit alleged that Inchcape knowingly overcharged the government for these services by inflating invoices, double billing, and charging above contract rates.
According to the lawsuit, the whistleblowers resigned from Inchcape after discovering the fraud and confronting the company’s CEO with their findings. Stymied by the CEO, the whistleblowers brought their information to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and subsequently filed the qui tam suit.
“Under its husbanding contracts, Inchcape pledged to ‘bring the highest level of commitment’ to obtaining goods and services for Navy ships at fair prices,” said attorney Alexis Ronickher at Katz, Marshall & Banks, which represented the whistleblowers along with Vogel, Slade & Goldstein. “The lawsuit alleges that, instead, Inchcape conspired with its subsidiaries and vendors to gouge the Navy wherever and whenever possible.”
“We trust contractors supporting our warfighters to act with the utmost integrity and expect them to comply with their obligations to bill the government as called for by their contracts,” said U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Jessie K. Liu. “This settlement reflects our Office’s strong commitment to holding accountable those who violate these fundamental principles, no matter where they may be located.”