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UPS fined US$25 million

WASHINGTON, DC: The U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) says UPS is to pay US$25 million to resolve allegations that it submitted false claims for Next Day Air deliveries to "hundreds of federal agencies".

The settlement covers a period from 2004 to 2014 when the company allegedly hid its failure to comply with delivery guarantees under contracts with the U.S. General Services Administration and the U.S. Transport Command. As a result, the DoJ says customers not only got packages delivered late, they weren't able to request refunds for late delivery.

UPS delivering disaster recoveryThe government claims UPS knowingly recorded inaccurate delivery times on packages to make it appear that the packages were delivered on time, applied inapplicable "exception codes" to excuse late delivery (such as "security delay," "customer not in," or "business closed"), and provided inaccurate "on-time" performance data under the federal contracts.

The civil settlement resolves a lawsuit filed under the whistleblower provision of the U.S. False Claims Act, which allows individuals to file suit on behalf of the United States for false claims and obtain a portion of the government's recovery. Typically, they can receive anything from 10-30 percent of the total. In this case, former UPS employee Robert Fulk, who filed the lawsuit in Virginia, gets US$3.75 million.

"Protecting the federal procurement process from false claims is central to the mission of the Department of Justice," said principal deputy assistant Attorney General Benjamin Mizer. "We will continue to ensure that when federal monies are used to purchase commercial services the government receives the prices and services to which it is entitled."

In an unrelated move, the DoJ has announced that five major banks - Citicorp, JPMorgan Chase, Barclays, The Royal Bank of Scotland and UBS - have pleaded guilty to manipulating foreign exchange markets and agreed to pay criminal fines of over US$2.5 billion. According to a DoJ statement, between December 2007 and January 2013, euro-dollar traders at Citicorp, JPMorgan, Barclays and RBS – self-described members of "The Cartel" – used an exclusive electronic chat room and coded language to manipulate benchmark exchange rates. The five banks have now paid nearly US$9 billion in fines and penalities to U.S., Swiss and U.K. regulators relating to currency manipulation.

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