Procurement and Contracting FraudA breach-of-contract dispute can easily trigger a fraud prosecution when the other party is a government agency. Most large public sector operations can only function in partnership with private enterprise, as government agencies purchase equipment, parts, labor and expertise from a wide range of industries as necessary to discharge their statutory obligations. Collusion and irregularities in the contracting and fulfillment process give rise to a range of fraud investigations, increasingly initiated by whistleblowers as well as auditors and agency inspectors general. Procurement fraud investigations typically focus on false and inflated invoicing and bid-rigging, implicating antitrust laws in addition to traditional fraud statutes. Other targeted conduct includes collusion among suppliers, violation of contract terms, and false statements in response to procurement requests.
Defending against accusations of procurement fraud presents unique challenges that require the legal team to understand the multiple and sometimes competing agendas of the parties aligned on the other side—the prosecuting agency, the contracting agency, and frequently a qui tam relator. We have successfully defended contractors and government agents charged with various forms of fraud in connection with the government contracting and procurement process. Successful representation requires a thorough examination of the contracting process and contract terms along with scrutiny of personnel on both sides of the contact. An aggressive investigation—sometimes utilizing forensic accounting and fraud analytics—can occasionally demonstrate that any fraudulent conduct was induced—or wholly committed by—personnel within the government agency itself. As in most criminal cases, early, proactive investigation and engagement by defense counsel can slow down the rush to judgment and prevent the return of an indictment. This avoids the impact of adverse publicity, preserves business relationships, and averts the threat of debarment.