A Fluor Corp. subsidiary will pay $4 million to settle allegations that workers filed false claims and received kickbacks related to the company’s contract at the Dept. of Energy’s Hanford nuclear site in Washington state, the Justice Dept. said.
In announcing the settlement on June 17, the department said that from 2003 to 2008, three Fluor Hanford Inc. material coordinators “made hundreds of fraudulent purchases using government purchase cards, using their positions and exploiting weaknesses in Fluor’s internal control system to funnel DOE funds to themselves.”
Fluor spokesman Keith Stephens says, “Fluor settled with the Dept. of Justice because we felt it was in the best interest of the government and the taxpayers to resolve this issue as expeditiously as possible.”
He adds, “We did not knowingly submit false claims and we did not receive any kickbacks, as alleged.”
Stephens says, “We don’t in any way, shape or form condone this type of behavior.” He adds that Fluor Hanford’s audits discovered the problem and the company brought the matter to DOE’s inspector general several years ago.
He also says Fluor “cooperated fully in the investigation” and “took remedial actions,” including terminating workers found to have engaged in “inappropriate conduct in business transactions.”
Justice said Fluor audits between 2001 and 2008 identified shortcomings in its controls over purchase cards, which the three workers exploited.
But the department contended, “Fluor failed to address these weaknesses, allowing these schemes to go undetected for years.”
Moreover, the department said, at least 14 Fluor material coordinators “solicited, received and accepted kickbacks” from Fast Pipe and Supply Company and its owner, Shane Fast.
The kickbacks included cash, tickets to sporting events and gift cards, it said, and were intended to influence the recipients to buy products from Fast. The 14 Fluor employees did more than $3.5 million worth of business with Fast.
Justice said five ex-Fluor employees have been indicted for taking part in the schemes. Four of them have pleaded guilty and the fifth is awaiting trial, it said.