Guam Water Authority Contractor Sued For False Claims
By Geraldine Castillo
HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Marianas Variety Guam, Feb. 8, 2013) – A contractor for the Guam Waterworks Authority (GWA) is being sued in federal court for allegedly submitting false claims in order to obtain a reimbursement worth nearly $118,000 in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA).
A civil suit filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office on behalf of the USEPA was filed Wednesday in District Court of Guam against GRH Technologies Construction Co. Ltd. and its first director, treasurer and company stockholder, Chen Pei Su.
According to the complaint, GRH entered into a contract with GWA in January 2009 to provide services including leak detection, pipeline, location, mapping, leak control analysis, and related training.
GRH was to complete work in three phases under the contract, and was required to "provide all leak detection equipment, and that the equipment ‘be new... and based on the most updated state of the art technology,’ and for the equipment to be transferred to GWA at the end of the contract," court documents state.
USEPA awarded GWA more than $2 million in ARRA funds for Phase II and part of Phase II of the GRH contract.
Under the agreement, GRH was to provide an invoice to GWA for reimbursements on work completed or equipment purchased by GRH.
As part of the process, GWA reviews the reimbursement request for approval and once approved, forwards a request to USEPA for final review and approval. If approved, USEPA uses ARRA funds to complete the reimbursement to GRH.
In June 2011, court documents state, Su submitted a reimbursement request to GRH for $117,912 related to the purchase of leak detection equipment from Great Harvest Ltd., a Taiwan-based company.
GWA had approved and forwarded the GRH reimbursement request to USEPA which subsequently approved the request and reimbursed the $117,912 to GRH, court documents state.
However, when GWA requested Su and GRH President David Lei to provide a copy of the GRH check to Great Harvest Ltd., as well as itemized receipts, neither was able to provide such documentation.
Because GRH was unable to provide evidence of its payment to Great Harvest in the amount of $117,912 to USEPA, the government believes they submitted a false claim in order to pocket the $117,912.
The government is seeking a court judgment against GRH for "triple the damages" plus penalties per violation, or as an alternative, recovery of all payments mistakenly paid and other such costs.
GRH was contacted to find out if they were aware of the lawsuit. They confirmed that Su was the company’s accountant, but said they would return call for comment. A call was not returned as of press time.
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