Summary: Samsung settles False Claims Act allegations for $2.3 million without any determination of liability or admission of having caused alleged violations of the TAA.
Samsung Electronics America Inc. has agreed to pay $2.3 million to resolve allegations that it caused the submission of false claims in violation of the Trade Agreements Act of 1979. The lawsuit had been brought by a former Samsung employee as a whistleblower. The lawsuit claimed Samsung obtained equipment from non-TAA countries but did not inform about the same to others down the chain, who thus made false claims to federal agencies.
The violations allegedly occurred in respect to Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) contracts awarded by the General Service Administration (GSA). Like most federal procurement contracts GSA MAS contracts require the vendor to certify that all products it offers for sale comply with the TAA where products are obtained either from within US or with a country with which US has a TAA approved agreement.
The present lawsuit alleged that from January 2005 through August 2013, Samsung caused resellers of its products to sell items on their GSA MAS contracts in violation of the TAA by knowingly providing inaccurate information as to the country of origin of the goods. Upon Samsung’s misleading representation, the resellers, in turn, and without knowledge, represented to federal agencies that their goods were TAA compliant, while in fact specified products had been manufactured in China which is not a TAA-designated country.
Commenting on the issue, GSA Acting Inspector General Robert C. Erickson said, “It is unacceptable to sell unauthorized foreign electronics to the United States … We expect all companies doing business with the federal government to comply with contracting laws.”
Be that as it may, the case United States ex rel. Simmons v. Samsung Electronics America and associated claims have been resolved by the settlement with declaration that the claims are only allegations and there has been no determination of liability. The share of the whistleblower in the settlement is yet to be decided.