MWI Fraud Verdict for Nigerian Bonuses Upheld
WASHINGTON (CN) - Florida-based MWI Corp. will not skate on a False Claims Act rap over inflated commissions it paid a longtime Nigerian sales agent and hid from Uncle Sam, a federal judge ruled.
MWI Corp. sold $82.2 million worth of irrigation pumps and other equipment to seven Nigerian states in 1992 but made excessive commission payments to its agent without disclosing said expenditures to the government, which financed the deal for Nigeria through the U.S. Export Import Bank.
U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler denied the company judgment as a matter of law last week, ruling that "many of MWI's arguments ask the Court to 'make credibility determinations or weigh the evidence,' which it is not permitted to do."
MWI's renewed motion came in response to a jury's November 2013 ruling that held MWI liable under the False Claims Act after found that the company had "knowingly presented 58 false or fraudulent claims for payment to the government," according to the ruling.
Kessler ruled in February that Nigeria's repayment of approximately $108 million in loans to the Ex-Im Bank offset damages from the false claims, but MWI remains on the hook for $580,000 in civil penalties.
In her latest ruling, dated June 25, Kessler determined that there is sufficient evidence to support the jury's findings and denied MWI's motion for judgment as a matter of law.