WASHINGTON, D.C. - A joint venture of engineering and construction companies has agreed to pay the United States $24.75 million to settle allegations that the firms violated the False Claims Act, the Justice Department announced today. The government asserts the companies violated the False Claims Act by knowingly submitting inflated claims on Amtrak’s project to electrify the rail corridor between New Haven and Boston. Balfour Beatty Construction; Massachusetts Electric Construction Company; their joint venture BBC-MEC; J. F. White Contracting Company; and Northeast Corridor Foundations, a joint venture between J.F. White and BBC-MEC, are alleged to have overcharged Amtrak for the installation of an overhead system used to deliver electricity to locomotives. The allegations are that the parties inflated claims regarding the foundations for the poles, the electrical power system, and for delay and disruption of the overall project. The overcharges were paid with grant funds provided to Amtrak by the federal government. “This settlement sends a clear message that the Justice Department will investigate and resolve financial fraud perpetrated by contractors of federal grantees,” said Peter Keisler, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division. BBC-MEC was the prime contractor on the project and J.F. White was a partner in the subcontractor whose responsibility was to install the foundations for the poles. BBC is a subsidiary of London-based Balfour Beatty PLC, and MEC is a subsidiary of Peter Keiwit & Sons, Inc. BBC’s primary U.S. office is in Atlanta. MEC and J.F. White are based in Boston. "The whistleblower provision of the False Claim Act offers a powerful financial incentive," said U.S. Attorney Kevin J. O'Connor of the District of Connecticut. "Individuals with knowledge of fraud against the government are encouraged to contact the U.S. Attorney's Office." This case was originally filed under the qui tam or whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act by Ian Cartwright, a former Balfour Beatty employee. As a result of the settlement, Cartwright will receive $3,898,125 of the total recovery. Under the whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act, private parties can file an action on behalf of the United States and receive a portion of the proceeds of a settlement or judgment awarded against a defendant. The settlement resulted after a lengthy investigation by the Justice Department made in conjunction with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Amtrak’s Office of Inspector General. The case is entitled U.S. ex rel. Cartwright v. Balfour Beatty, et al., Civil No. 3:99CV02585 (JCH) (D. CT.).