A Virginia-based defense contractor is now facing charges due to a complaint filed by the U.S. Department of Justice. The qui tam lawsuit alleges that the company, Triple Canopy, submitted false claims by hiring unqualified security guards after they were awarded a one-year $10 million contract to provide security in Iraq.
Triple Canopy’s contract with the government required the company to perform a variety of security services at the second largest air base in Iraq, Al Asad Airbase, in June 2009. The Joint Contracting Command in Iraq/Afghanistan awarded the multi-million dollar contract to Triple Canopy.
Fraudulent Activity Surrounds Proficiency Testing at Triple Canopy
According to the Department of Justice, Triple Canopy hired hundreds of foreign national security guards who did not and could not meet established firearms proficiency tests. The firearms proficiency tests were developed by the United States Army and their passage is an essential requirement of each national security guard working under government contract. The proficiency tests ensure that security guards hired to protect the U.S. and allied personnel are capable of firing their AK-47 assault rifles and other weapons in a safe and accurate manner.
The False Claims Act (or whistleblower) complaint also alleges that Triple Canopy’s managers in Iraq falsified the results of numerous proficiency tests in order to receive payment for each unqualified guard that was hired. The company then continued to bill the United States government for the services of unqualified employees, even after several high-level executives were made aware of the misconduct. Moreover, the complaint alleges that Triple Canopy used the fraudulent qualification records, claiming each security guard obtained highly impressive scores, in an attempt to impress and persuade the JCC-I/A to award them with a second year of security work on the Al Asad Airbase.
DOJ Reaction to Qui Tam Allegations
“For a government contractor to knowingly provide deficient security services, as is alleged in this case, is unthinkable, especially in war time,” said Stuart F. Delery, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division of the Department of Justice.
“The department will do everything it can to ensure that contractors comply with critical contract requirements and that contractors who don’t comply aren’t permitted to profit at the expense of our men and women in uniform and the taxpayers at home who support them.”
“We will not tolerate government contractors anywhere in the world who seek to defraud the United States through deliberate or reckless conduct that violates contractual requirements and risks the security of government personnel,” said Neil H. MacBride, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.
According to a Triple Canopy representative, on the advice of counsel, “Triple Canopy is unable to comment due to pending litigation surrounding this matter.” As of this date, the Department of Justice is unaware of any accidents or injuries that occurred as a result of Triple Canopy’s alleged misconduct and fraudulent activity.
Whistleblower Key to Investigation of Triple Canopy
The allegations contained in the government’s qui tam lawsuit are based on information provided by a company whistleblower. A former Triple Canopy employee initially brought the whistleblower lawsuit forward in 2011, after hiring a False Claims Act attorney. Under the qui tam (or whistleblower) provision of the False Claims Act, the United States government had a specific period to investigate the allegations contained in the lawsuit before deciding whether to intervene in the case or allow the whistleblower to go forward with the False Claims Act case alone.