A company that provides laboratory animals to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has agreed to pay the U.S. government $1.8 million to settle a False Claims Act (FCA) lawsuit claiming the company fraudulently charged for labor and other costs that were never actually provided.
Charles River Laboratories International Inc. holds contracts with the NIH to develop, provide, maintain, and distribute animals to NIH for medical and biotech purposes.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the Wilmington, Massachusetts-based corporation billed the NIH for labor and associated costs of employees at its facilities in Raleigh, North Carolina; and Kingston, New York, “despite the fact that these individuals did not render the services as Charles River had claimed,” the Justice Department said in a statement.
“Contractors are expected to deal fairly with federal agencies when receiving taxpayer funds,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad A. Readler of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “The Department of Justice will continue to ensure that contractors spend taxpayer dollars appropriately and that those who do not are held accountable.”
The Justice Department and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) initiated the False Claims Act complaint after Charles River disclosed the violations to those agencies, according to a Justice Department news release.
“We expect companies that contract with HHS to provide the services as claimed and paid for by the taxpayers,” said Gregory E. Demske, Chief Counsel for the HHS Office of Inspector General. “Charles River’s self-disclosure and resolution of this matter underscores the importance of contractors preventing, detecting, and remediating overcharges of labor costs to HHS. Under our contractor self-disclosure program, OIG is committed to working with HHS contractors that detect fraud issues to review, take any appropriate action, and resolve these matters fairly.”
Source: U.S. Department of Justice