DOJ Agrees to Civil Settlement with Additional Firm Involved in Bid Rigging and Fraud Targeting Defense Department Fuel Supply Contracts for U.S. Military Bases in South Korea
South Korea-based company Jier Shin Korea Co. Ltd., and its president, Sang Joo Lee, have agreed to pay $2 million to the United States for civil antitrust and False Claims Act violations for their involvement in a bid-rigging conspiracy that targeted contracts to supply fuel to U.S. military bases in South Korea, the Department of Justice announced today.
The United States previously reached civil settlements totaling over $205 million relating to the conspiracy with GS Caltex Corporation, Hanjin Transportation Co. Ltd., Hyundai Oilbank Co. Ltd., SK Energy Co. Ltd., and S-Oil Corporation. As with the prior civil settlements, this settlement reflects the important role of both Section 4A of the Clayton Act and the False Claims Act to ensure that the United States is compensated when it is the victim of anticompetitive conduct.
“Today’s settlement represents the final chapter of our efforts to use Section 4A of the Clayton Act to ensure that the companies involved in this conspiracy compensate American taxpayers for their anticompetitive activity,” said Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the Antitrust Division. “Together, these are the largest Section 4A settlements in American history, and we will continue to use this important enforcement tool when taxpayers are harmed by cartels.”
“This is the sixth False Claims Act settlement arising from the bid rigging of contracts to supply fuel to U.S. military bases in South Korea,” said Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt of the Civil Division. “We will pursue and hold accountable those who seek to defraud the American taxpayers, including those who conspire with others to do so.”
“You will pay the price if you rig bids and especially if you target our military bases while doing so,” said U.S. Attorney David M. DeVillers for the Southern District of Ohio. “Today’s settlement shows that we will not stop until we hold accountable all responsible parties.”
The Department’s Antitrust Division today filed a civil antitrust complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio and, at the same time, filed a proposed settlement that, if approved by the court, would resolve the lawsuit against Jier Shin Korea and Mr. Lee for their anticompetitive conduct targeting the U.S. military in South Korea. The proposed settlement requires that Jier Shin Korea and Mr. Lee pay $2 million to the United States to resolve the civil antitrust violations. In addition, Jier Shin Korea and Mr. Lee have agreed to continue to cooperate with the United States’ civil investigations and to abide by an antitrust compliance program. The amount to be paid by Jier Shin Korea and Mr. Lee reflects the value of their cooperation, limitations on their ability to pay, and cost savings realized by avoiding extended litigation. The settlement further provides that the United States, if it discovers any material misrepresentations in the financial statements provided by Jier Shin Korea and Mr. Lee regarding their ability to pay, may recover the full amount by which Jier Shin Korea or Mr. Lee understated that ability.
The payment will also resolve civil claims that the United States has under the False Claims Act against Jier Shin Korea and Mr. Lee for making false statements to the government in connection with their agreement not to compete. The Civil Division has entered into a separate settlement agreement with Jier Shin Korea and Mr. Lee to resolve these claims.
The civil settlement was handled by the Antitrust Division’s Transportation, Energy, and Agriculture Section, by the Civil Division, and by the Civil Fraud Section of the United States Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of Ohio.
The United States’ civil investigation resulted from a whistleblower lawsuit filed under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act. Those provisions allow for private parties to sue on behalf of the United States and to share in any recovery.
The proposed civil antitrust settlement, along with the Antitrust Division’s competitive impact statement, will be published in the Federal Register, as required by the Antitrust Procedures and Penalties Act. Any person may submit written comments concerning the proposed settlement within 60 days of its publication to Robert Lepore, Chief, Transportation, Energy, and Agriculture Section, Antitrust Division, U.S. Department of Justice, 450 Fifth Street, N.W., Suite 8000, Washington, D.C. 20530. At the conclusion of the 60-day comment period, the court may enter the civil antitrust settlement upon a finding that it serves the public interest.