Tactical Gear Company Settles $2.1 Million False Claims Act Allegations
The U.S Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of Ohio has announced that London Bridge Trading Company, Ltd. (LBT), a Virginia headquartered manufacturer of tactical gear for military, law enforcement, and other organizations, has agreed to pay nearly $2.1 million to settle False Claims Act allegations. The case, initiated by qui tam relator Ann Keating, involves accusations that LBT failed to comply with the Buy American Act (BAA), Trade Agreements Act (TAA), and Berry Amendment when supplying textile-based products to the Department of Defense.
The BAA, enacted in 1933, aims to protect U.S. manufacturing by giving preference to domestic products in federal government purchases. The Berry Amendment requires certain items purchased by the Department of Defense to be 100% domestically sourced. The TAA governs trade agreements, restricting certain U.S. Government procurement to products made in the United States or designated countries.
The press release reveals that since at least 2008, LBT falsely claimed its products were “American-made” when, in reality, they were manufactured in foreign countries such as China and Mexico. The products at issue, specifically military load-out bags for carrying military gear, were purchased by the United States, including by the Defense Logistics Agency’s supply center in Columbus, Ohio, under the false conception that they were buying American-made gear.
The company, which touts on its website that “[a]ll of LBT’s products are proudly made in the USA (VA and TX)” and are “Berry Amendment compliant,” was allegedly replacing the original foreign manufacturers’ labels on its gear with ones that read “Made in USA.”
This brazen conduct concerned Keating, who had lost a son in 2004 while serving his country in Iraq. She believed that the fraudulent conduct by LBT posed a threat to the “safety and integrity” of U.S. military operations. The government agreed. Ultimately, LBT entered into a civil settlement, without conceding liability, resolving claims brought under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act. Keating will receive a share of the proceeds, typically 15 to 30 percent of a recovery. The investigation involved collaboration between several federal agencies, including the Department of Defense, Office of Inspector General, Defense Criminal Investigative Service, Homeland Security Investigations, and more.
U.S. Attorney Kenneth L. Parker emphasized the U.S. government’s commitment to ensuring government contractors meet their legal obligations and stated, “[W]e will pursue anyone falsely certifying compliance with the Buy American Act.”
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