SIX SEATTLE FORWARDERS TO PAY $2 MILLION IN PENALTIES TO U.S. GOVERNMENT
Six Seattle freight forwarders have agreed to pay $2 million in penalties to the U.S. government as a result of a “whistleblower” complaint against the firms.
The firms — American Eagle Worldwide Forwarders, Cascade International, Shoreline Inc., Wold International, Zenith Forwarders and Northwest Consolidators — allegedly falsified the certification on their common financial and/or administrative control status to handle freight for Military Traffic Management Command — a criminal offense. The Alexandria, Va.-based agency is responsible for managing the personal property moves of military personnel on a global basis.
The settlement was a result of a whistleblower or Qui Tam lawsuit filed by the former comptroller of Pan American Products, which acted as factor for the accounts of the six forwarders. MTMC said the former comptroller, who revealed the relationship will receive 17 percent of the settlement account, or $340,000. The Qui Tam statute allows private parties who reveal allegations of fraud against the government to share in any recover.
As part of the penalty, the forwarders have agreed to permanently withdraw from their participation in the personal property of the Defense Department and all other programs run by the federal government.
The settlement was announced jointly by the U.S. Attorney Kate Pflaumer and MTMC’s Col. Nonie Cabana, deputy chief of staff for passenger and personal property.
The government’s investigation was led by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington. The office received help in the investigation from MTMC, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, the Defense Contract Audit Agency, and the Army Criminal Investigations Command.