WASHINGTON – CSI Engineering and CSI Design Build, located in Beltsville, Md., and their president, Debdas Ghosal, have agreed to pay the United States $200,000 to settle claims that they used false statements to obtain contracts from several government agencies, the Justice Department announced today. The contracts had been set aside for companies that qualified for the Small Business Administration’s Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) program.
Under the HUBZone program, companies that maintain their principal office in a designated area and employ 35 percent of their workforce from that area, among other requirements, can apply to the Small Business Administration (SBA) for certification as a HUBZone small business company. HUBZone companies can then use this certification when bidding on government contracts. In certain cases, government agencies will restrict competition for a contract to HUBZone-certified companies.
The United States alleged that CSI Design Build falsely represented to the SBA and other government agencies that it maintained its principal office in a designated HUBZone location in Maryland. According to the government, CSI Design Build actually operated as part of CSI Engineering, which was not located in a HUBZone. Both companies are owned by Debdas Ghosal. Despite not qualifying for the HUBZone program, CSI Design Build was awarded contracts that had been set aside for qualified HUBZone companies based upon the false statements it made to the SBA and the contracting agencies. The company obtained HUBZone contracts from the Army, the Department of Labor, the Department of Homeland Security and the Smithsonian Institution.
" When there is fraud in government contracting programs, American taxpayers everywhere are the victims," said Tony West, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division of the Department of Justice. "We will take action against any contractor who seeks to gain anunfair advantage over qualified HUBZone small businesses."
"This case is one of a series that the government has pursued for false claims made to obtain HUBZone set-aside contracts. The SBA Office of Inspector General will continue to aggressively pursue and seek criminal or civil fraud prosecution of false statements made to obtain preferential contracting and other government benefits," said SBA Inspector General Peggy E. Gustafson.
"This case represents the cooperative effort of SBA’s Offices of the General Counsel and the Inspector General and the Department of Justice to uncover and remedy fraud in our procurement programs," said SBA General Counsel Sara Lipscomb.
Assistant Attorney General West thanked the Justice Department’s Civil Division, the SBA Office of General Counsel, and the SBA Office of Inspector General for the collaboration that resulted in the settlement announced today.