The United States has joined a False Claims Act suit against a number of Kuwait-based entities that supplied food to U.S. troops in the region. The whistleblower lawsuit names Public Warehousing Company (PWC), The Sultan Center Food Products Company (TSC), and Tarek Abbul Aziz Sultan Al-Essa, the chief executive officer of PWC. Filed in federal court in Georgia, the suit alleges that the companies violated the federal False Claims Act by making false claims for payment in connection with PWC’s contracts to supply food for U.S. troops stationed in Iraq, Kuwait and Jordan. Since 2003, alleges the complaint, the defendants intentionally overcharged the government for locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables purchased by PWC from TSC. PWC also allegedly breached its contracts with the government by failing to disclose or to give rebates and discounts the company obtained from its suppliers based in the U.S.
The whistleblower in the case was Kamal Mustafa Al-Sultan, who owns a Kuwaiti firm that originally partnered with PWC to make a bid for the food supply contracts. His suit was filed under seal and remained so until the United States was able to investigate the matter and decide whether to join the lawsuit. Under the False Claims Act, the government may recover up to three times the amount of its losses, as well as civil penalties. The whistleblower is entitled to share in any recovery, under the Qui Tam provisions of the Act.
For the full story, go to the Department of Justice’s press release.