In the latest chapter in a long federal contracting case, an Egyptian construction company has agreed to pay the U.S. government $1.1 million to settle false-claim charges regarding U.S. Agency for International Development water and wastewater project contracts, the Dept. of Justice says.
In a settlement that DOJ announced on June 13, Misr Sons Development S.A.E.—also called Hassan Allam Sons—resolves allegations that it was awarded U.S. AID contracts in the 1990s that it wasn't entitled to receive, according to the department.
Bidders for the projects had to be pre-certified and, in some cases, prove that they were U.S. companies, according to DOJ.
The settlement agreement states that it "is neither a concession by the United States that its claims are not well-founded nor an admission of liability by Misr Sons."
Misr Sons' attorney, Jacob Pultman, says, "The company is happy to say that they're pleased to resolve this. They denied any liability or wrongdoing."
Pultman, a partner with Allen & Overy LLP, New York City, adds, "The settlement resolved something that's been pending since 2004 and they're happy to put that behind them and resolve it on this basis."
The firm, a contractor whose main place of business is Cairo, was part of a three-company joint venture that won several U.S. AID infrastructure contracts in Egypt. The two other partners were Contrack International Inc.—a subsidiary of now Dubai-based Orascom Construction—and the former Washington Group International Inc.
The case stretches back more than a decade. In November 2004, DOJ filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Idaho against the three joint-venture partners, alleging violations of the False Claims Act and Foreign Assistance Act.
U.S. AID required that only U.S. companies could submit bids for the contracts. The government contended that Misr Sons wasn't eligible to take part in the joint venture but that the firms concealed Misr Sons' role from U.S. AID.
The other two companies in the joint venture previously had reached settlements with DOJ.
In July 2013, Contrack, based in McLean, Va., agreed to pay the U.S. $3.5 million. The company told ENR in 2013 that it denied the allegations and denied that it had “engaged in any wrongful conduct.”
In 2015, the company changed its name to Contrack Watts Inc. The company had acquired Watts Constructors LLC two years earlier.
In January 2016, URS C&E Holdings Inc., the successor to Washington Group, reached a settlement with DOJ in which the company agreed to pay $9 million.
In that settlement, DOJ noted that the claims mentioned are allegations and that there had been no determination of liability.
AECOM acquired URS Corp. in 2014. Contacted by ENR at the time, AECOM had no comment.
Story updated on 6/15/17 a.m. with comments from Misr Sons' attorney.