WASHINGTON - The United States has intervened in three whistleblower suits alleging that Hewlett-Packard Company (HP), Accenture LLP, and Sun Microsystems Inc. solicited and provided improper payments and other things of value on technology contracts with government agencies, the Justice Department announced today.
The suits, originally filed in U.S. District Court in Little Rock, Ark., by Norman Rille and his co-plaintiff Neal Roberts allege that HP, Accenture and Sun submitted false claims to the United States for information technology (IT) hardware and services on numerous government contracts from the late 1990s to the present. The core of the allegations, in which the United States has joined by filing its own complaints, is that the defendants have systematically solicited and/or made payments of money and other things of value, known as “alliance benefits,” to a number of companies with whom they had global “alliance relationships” or an agreement to work together. The government’s complaints assert that these alliance relationships and the resulting alliance benefits amount to kickbacks and undisclosed conflict of interest relationships.
“The Department of Justice is acting in this case to protect the integrity of the procurement process,” said Peter Keisler, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division.
The suits were originally filed under the qui tam or whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act. Under that statute, a private party, known as a “relator,” can file an action on behalf of the United States and receive a portion of the recovery.
Under the False Claims Act, the United States may recover three times the amount of its losses plus civil penalties. The government filed its complaint in intervention in the matters on April 12, 2007. The complaints were unsealed today.
The investigation of the allegations in the complaints was conducted by the U.S. Attorney’s office in Little Rock, the Department’s Civil Division, the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Energy, and the General Services Administration Office of the Inspector General, the Army Criminal Investigation Command, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, the Defense Contract Audit Agency, NASA Office of the Inspector General, the Environmental Protection Agency Office of the Inspector General, the Postal Service Office of the Inspector General, the Navy Criminal Investigative Service and the Air Force Office of Special Investigations.