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Catch of the Week — DOJ Settles with Two Additional Defendants in Ongoing Bid Rigging Investigation

Posted  March 22, 2019

Our Catch of the Week celebrates DOJ’s $127 million settlements with two additional South Korea-based companies entangled in a bid-rigging conspiracy to stifle competition and thus artificially inflate prices charged to the U.S. Government on contracts to supply fuel for U.S. military bases in South Korea. The two oil companies, Hyundai Oilbank Co. Ltd and S-Oil Corporation, will pay $75 million in criminal fines and $52 million to resolve civil False Claims Act and antitrust violations.

Three other companies, SK Energy Co. Ltd.GS Caltex Corporation, and Hanjin Transportation Co. Ltd., have already agreed to pay $236 million for their roles in the conspiracy, bringing the running settlement totals to $363 million in this ongoing federal investigation. In addition to the corporate defendants, the government also announced indictments against seven individuals.

In a press release announcing the latest settlements, the Justice Department noted its “commitment to prosecuting bid rigging and fraud — especially when those crimes directly target taxpayer dollars that fund the U.S. military’s critical work.” Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the DOJ’s Antitrust Division went on to pledge not to “waver in our dedication to prosecuting corporations and individuals, wherever they are located, that seek to profit at the expense of American taxpayers.”

The civil settlement resolves whistleblower claims brought by a Constantine Cannon client under the False Claims Act, a federal statute that allows individuals to report fraud on the government and U.S. taxpayers, and bring claims on their behalf. The FCA incentivizes insiders who learn about fraud to come forward by allowing successful whistleblowers to share in the government’s recovery.


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