The Justice Department announced that it has intervened in a qui tam action brought against stevedoring company Jacintoport International LLC based in Houston, Texas. A stevedore is someone who loads and unloads freight from ships.
According to the complaint, in 2007, the U.S. Agency for International Development (“USAID”) and Jacintoport entered into a contract for the storage and delivery of emergency humanitarian food aid to international areas in crisis. The U.S. contends that the contract set caps on the rates that Jacintoport could charge for loading the cargo.
The complaint alleges that, from approximately January 2008 to October 2009, Jacintoport routinely charged rates in excess of the specified maximum rates contained in the contract in violation of the False Claims Act. According to the government’s complaint, more than 50 thousand tons of humanitarian food aid was charged at the inflated rates.
The allegations were first made in a qui tam complaint filed by whistleblower, John Raggio, in 2010. Raggio asserted that he received an invoice from Jacintoport containing charges in excess of the contract capped rates.
Pursuant to the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act, the whistleblower may be entitled to receive a portion of any recovery by the government as his reward.