whistleblowers

Hanford contractors to pay nearly $58M settlement after whistle-blowers allege massive fraud scheme

Whistleblower claims alleged fraudulent overcharges that inflated the hours of labor and billed for work that was not actually performed.

Hanford contractors involved in the long-running effort to build the site’s Waste Treatment Plant have agreed to pay a $57.75 million settlement to the U.S. Justice Department to resolve whistleblower claims of fraudulent overcharges that inflated the hours of labor and billed for work that was not actually performed.

The settlement announced Tuesday with Bechtel Corp., AECOM Energy & Construction, and an AECOM subsidiary covers work undertaken to build the Waste Treatment Plant. This construction work has soaked up many billions of federal dollars to develop a complex able to treat and stabilize hazardous chemical and radioactive wastes for long-term storage.

Back in 2016, Bechtel and subcontractor URS agreed to pay $125 million to settle allegations of subpar work and accusations of using taxpayer dollars illegally to fund a multiyear lobbying campaign.

part of the new settlement, the contractors must submit to an independent compliance review for the next three years. And in a statement released Tuesday by the U.S. Attorney’s Office of Washington’s Eastern District, the contractors came under harsh criticism.

“It is stunning that, for nearly a decade, Bechtel and AECOM chose to line their corporate pockets by diverting important taxpayer funds from this critically essential effort,” Joseph E. Harrington, first assistant attorney general for the Eastern District of Washington, said in the statement.

Teri L. Donaldson, the inspector general for the Department of Energy, said “Bechtel National Inc., AECOM Energy & Construction Inc. and (the AECOM subsidiary) Waste Treatment Completion Company LLC, engaged in a massive scheme to submit tens of millions of dollars of false claims to the U.S. Government for unallowable and unjustified costs over a period of years — a pattern of conduct that

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