San Diego, California - COLAS Djibouti SARL (Colas Djibouti) has agreed to resolve for $3.9 million civil allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by selling substandard concrete used to construct U.S. Navy airfields in the Republic of Djibouti, the Department of Justice announced Wednesday. Colas Djibouti, a French limited liability company, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Colas SA, a French civil engineering company.
The civil settlement announced Wednesday resolves allegations that Colas Djibouti knowingly provided contractually non-compliant concrete that did not meet gradation requirements, contained excessive alkali-silica reactive material, and contained elevated chloride content. These conditions had the potential to promote early-age cracking, surface defects, and the corrosion of embedded steel, and thus, could significantly impair the long-term durability of the concrete utilized on U.S. military bases.
In addition to the civil settlement, U.S. Attorney Robert S. Brewer for the Southern District of California announced a separate Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) with Colas Djibouti pursuant to which Colas Djibouti will admit to the underlying facts and accept responsibility to a one-count information for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and pay a $12,542,002 monetary penalty, comprised of a fine, forfeiture, and restitution. The civil settlement will credit $1,957,998 of Colas Djibouti’s payment under the DPA, and require an additional payment of $1,957,998.
“Government contractors that supply substandard materials to our armed forces not only cheat the American taxpayers but also impose added costs and burdens on the military,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton for the Department of Justice’s Civil Division. “Today’s settlement demonstrates our commitment to ensure that those who do business with the government comply with their contractual obligations.”
“Wherever our Navy goes, we go,” said Robert S. Brewer, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California. “We will continue to unwaveringly protect our American warfighters from fraud, graft and corruption as they protect us from enemies foreign and domestic.”
“Our Sailors and Marines depend upon high quality products and services from our Department of the Navy contractors in order to meet the department’s world-wide mission,” said acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas W. Harker. “This outcome demonstrates that the Department of the Navy will continue to insist that our contractors must meet our high standards. This global settlement demonstrates the strong cooperation between the Department of the Navy and the Department of Justice in preventing fraud, no matter where in the world it happens.”
“Aircraft taxiways are essential to military operations, and therefore require concrete that conforms to the high standards and specifications of the Department of Defense” said Stanley A. Newell, Special Agent in Charge for the DCIS Transnational Operations Field Office. “The DCIS along with our investigative partners will vigorously root out conduct like this that threatens U.S. military readiness and harms the integrity of the DoD procurement system.”
"Protecting Navy interests is a top priority of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. Anyone considering defrauding the Navy and U.S. taxpayers should know NCIS will aggressively pursue all such allegations, in concert with our law enforcement partners and the Department of Justice," said Todd Battaglia, Special Agent in Charge of the NCIS Europe and Africs Field Office.
This civil settlement was the result of a coordinated effort among the Civil Division's Commercial Litigation Branch (Fraud Section), the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California, the DCIS, the NCIS, and the Defense Contract Audit Agency - Operations Investigative Support Division.
Except as admitted in the DPA, the claims resolved by the civil settlement are allegations only and there has been no determination of liability.