DALLAS (CN) – Fluor Hanford, a wholly owned subsidiary of Fluor Corp., will pay $4 million to settle allegations that it knowingly submitted false claims and paid and took kickbacks for the cleanup of radioactive waste at the Department of Energy’s Hanford Nuclear Site in Washington state.
Federal prosecutors say that from 2003 to 2008, three employees, Susanna Zuniga, Gregory Detloff and Paul Kempf, made hundreds of fraudulent purchases using government cards, using their positions and exploiting weaknesses in Fluor’s internal control system to funnel Department of Energy funds to themselves.
As early as 2001 and repeatedly between 2001 and 2008, internal audits conducted by Fluor alerted it to weaknesses in its purchase card controls. But prosecutors said Fluor failed to address the weaknesses, allowing the schemes to go undetected for years.
From 2005 to 2008, at least 14 Fluor employees took kickbacks from a Hanford-area vendor known as Fast Pipe and Supply Company and its owner, Shane Fast, prosecutors said. These kickbacks, in cash, sports tickets, gift cards and other things, were to influence employees to buy from Fast rather than competing vendors. In return, the 14 Fluor employees did more than $3.5 million in business with Fast, prosecutors said.
Five former Fluor employees have been charged with participating in the fraudulent schemes. Four have pleaded guilty; one awaits trial.