On October 29, 2012, the Department of Justice announced that the United States is suing Jacintoport International LLC for violating the False Claims Act. The false claims relate to a warehousing and logistics contract that addresses the storage and delivery of food for humanitarian aid.
Jacintoport is a cargo handling firm located in Houston.
According to the complaint filed by the United States, Jacintoport signed a warehousing and logistics contract with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in 2007. The contract contained a large amount of regulations, but one of the specific clauses placed strict caps on rates the cargo handling company could charge while loading humanitarian food onto ships—often referred to as stevedoring charges.
The complaint states that Jacintoport willingly exceeded the caps between January of 2008 and October of 2009. The overcharging resulted in increased charges for over 50,000 tons of humanitarian food.
The complaint by the United States started after John Raggio acted as a whistleblower under the False Claims Act. Under the whistleblower or “qui tam” provisions of the Act, any private citizen can sue for the United States and share in the recovery of funds. The United States has the power to become involved in the lawsuit, and the U.S. has chosen to intervene in this case.
Stuart F. Delery, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division, stated, “USAID’s humanitarian food aid program provides critical assistance to starving people all over the world. The Justice Department will take action against those whom we believe improperly charged the taxpayers in providing vital humanitarian aid.”
To learn more about the case, reference United States ex. rel. Raggio v. Jacintoport International LLC Case No. 1:10-cv-01908.
U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. stated, “This action is part of our commitment to protecting the taxpayers’ money and ensuring the integrity of foreign assistance programs. When contractors do not meet their obligations, they will be held accountable.”
Source: U.S. Department of Justice