Ohio Company Settles False Claims Act Allegations of Billing for Non-Existent Construction Materials
Wise Services Inc. (Wise), located in Dayton, Ohio, has agreed to pay $302,500 to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by causing the submission of false and fraudulent invoices for non-existent materials to the Department of Energy (DOE) and paying improper kickbacks. The settlement amount was negotiated based on Wise’s lack of ability to pay.
Wise was a subcontractor at the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility at the DOE Savannah River Site in Aiken, South Carolina. The United States alleged that Wise knowingly submitted to the prime contractor — MOX Services LLC, formerly known as CB&I AREVA MOX Services LLC (MOX) — hundreds of invoices charging millions of dollars for materials that did not exist. MOX presented those false invoices to DOE. The United States also alleged that Wise employees paid kickbacks to MOX employees involved in the scheme.
“The government expects both contractors and subcontractors to adhere to their contractual commitments,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “Those who violate their commitments and undermine the integrity of the government’s procurement process will face appropriate consequences.”
“This settlement puts subcontractors on notice that they will be held accountable for submitting false invoices and paying kickbacks to contractors on federal contracts with the United States,” said U.S. Attorney Adair F. Boroughs for the District of South Carolina. “We are grateful to the Department of Energy’s Office of Inspector General and the National Nuclear Security Administration for their important work in this case.”
“The lawsuit filed by Justice Department and this settlement will serve as a deterrent to others who seek to defraud the Department of Energy,” said Inspector General Teri L. Donaldson for the Department of Energy. “We are always seeking out those who develop illegal schemes designed to harm the government and the American taxpayers and we will continue to do everything we can to detect and deter these fraudsters.”
The civil settlement includes the resolution of claims against Wise brought under the False Claims Act by the United States in the case captioned United States v. CB&I AREVA MOX Services LLC and Wise Services Inc., No. 19-cv-444 (D.S.C.). MOX paid $10 million in a settlement with the government earlier this year for its participation in the scheme.
The resolution obtained in this matter was the result of a coordinated effort between the Justice Department’s Civil Division, Commercial Litigation Branch, Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina, with assistance from the DOE Office of Inspector General and the National Nuclear Security Administration.
The matter was handled by Fraud Section Attorneys Don Williamson and Rory Skaggs, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Johanna Valenzuela, James Leventis and Sheria Clarke for the District of South Carolina.
The claims resolved by the settlement are allegations only and there has been no determination of liability.