30 May 2018

Inchcape Shipping Services to pay $20 million in whistleblower case

Inchcape Shipping Services and subsidiaries have agreed to pay $20 million to resolve allegations they knowingly overbilled the US Navy.

The case arose from three former Inchcape employees filing the lawsuit in 2010 under whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act. The whistleblowers will receive about $4.4 million, the US Justice Department has announced. Inchcape, headquartered in the United Kingdom, provided the US Navy ships with a variety of goods and services, from waste removal to force protection, at ports around the world.

The lawsuit alleged that ‘from 2005 to 2014, Inchcape knowingly overbilled the Navy for these services by submitting invoices that overstated the quantity of goods and services provided, billing at rates in excess of applicable contract rates, and double-billing for some goods and services.’ Under the settlement, the claims in the case remain allegations and there was no determination of liability. However, Inchcape said it ‘disputes the allegations made by the United States and individual plaintiffs in the litigation.’ The company added that while it ‘remains confident in its legal positions, the action was filed eight years ago and yet remains in its earliest stages. Absent this settlement, the litigation would likely continue to distract Inchcape personnel and drain resources for years to come. Inchcape said it has decided it must put this matter behind it.

Internal resistance
The former employees are Larry Cosgriff, a retired naval reserve intelligence officer and senior vice president of Inchcape's Government Services Division from 2007 to 2010; Noah Rudolph, a former special agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation and CFO of the Government Services Division from 2008 to 2009; and Andrea Ford, an Inchcape government services manager from 2007 to 2010. The lawsuit alleged that the former employees resigned from the company after discovering the alleged multi-million dollar overbilling scheme and bringing it to the attention of the company's CEO Claus Hyldager and other senior executives, but there was internal resistance to their effort to stop the fraud and prevent further illegal acts. Mr Hyldager resigned from Inchcape in 2015.