The US government has filed a complaint against Kellogg, Brown & Root Services Inc. (KBR) and Kuwaiti companies La Nouvelle General Trading & Contracting Co. (La Nouvelle) and First Kuwaiti Trading Co. (First Kuwaiti) for submitting false claims in connection with KBR’s contract with the Army to provide logistical support in Iraq, the Department of Justice announced. KBR is an engineering, construction and services firm headquartered in Houston, Texas. Kuwait-based La Nouvelle and First Kuwaiti provided transportation, maintenance and other services in support of KBR’s contract with the Army.
“We depend on companies like KBR and its subcontractors to provide valuable services to our military,” said Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Division Stuart F. Delery. “We will en sure that contractors do not engage in corrupt practices at the expense of our troops abroad, while profiting at the expense of taxpayers at home.”
Allegedly, KBR made claims to the government, knowing them to be false, under a contract with the Army to provide wartime logistical support, known as the Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP) III. The award of LOGCAP III paved the way for the company to become a critical source for logistical support services in Iraq, which included transportation, maintenance, food, shelter and facilities management. KBR performed many of these services through subcontracts awarded to foreign companies local to the region, such as La Nouvelle and First Kuwaiti.
In its complaint, filed in federal court in Rock Island, Ill., the government alleged that, in 2003 and 2004, KBR employees took kickbacks from La Nouvelle and First Kuwaiti in connection with the award and oversight of subcontracts awarded to these companies. KBR then claimed reimbursement from the government for costs it incurred under the subcontracts that allegedly were inflated, excessive or for goods and services that were grossly deficient or not provided.
For example, KBR allegedly awarded La Nouvelle a subcontract to supply fuel tankers for more than three times the tankers’ value. La Nouvelle later rewarded the KBR employee who awarded the subcontract with a $1 million bank draft. As another example, KBR allegedly continued to make monthly lease payments to First Kuwaiti for trucks KBR had already returned to the subcontractor. KBR billed the government for the costs of both of these subcontracts. The lawsuit also alleges that KBR used refrigerated trailers to transport ice for consumption by the troops that had previously been used as temporary morgues without first sanitizing them.