Accenture to Pay $64 Million in Fines After Rigging Bids for Government IT Contracts

PAUL J.RICHARDS/AFP

Accenture agrees to $64M settlement in govt. lawsuit; company accused of paying kickbacks (AP):

The Justice Department announced Monday it reached a $63.7 million settlement with Accenture LLP in a whistleblower lawsuit that accused the technology services company of rigging bids, taking kickbacks and inflating prices the government paid for computers and services.

New York-based Accenture said in a statement that it “vigorously” denies the accusations and that the settlement did not constitute an admission of guilt.

The lawsuit was originally filed in the Eastern District of Arkansas by Norman Rille and Neal Roberts under whistleblower provisions of the federal False Claims Act. The government in 2007 joined the suit, as it did in similar lawsuits against Hewlett-Packard Co. and Sun Microsystems Inc.

HP settled its lawsuit in August 2010, announcing it would impact earnings by about $50 million. The company also denied any wrongdoing.

The government accused Accenture of accepting kickbacks after it recommended certain hardware and software to the government. The Justice Department also accused Accenture of fraudulently jacking up prices and rigging bids for federal information technology contracts.

Accenture To Pay $63.7M Over Charges Of Kickbacks, False Claims (Dow Jones Newswire):

The department said in court documents that Accenture received improper payments and rebates through alliances it had established with companies that included International Business Machines Corp. (IBM), data storage equipment maker EMC Corp. (EMC) and Sun Microsystems Inc., which was later acquired by Oracle Corp. (ORCL).

The government alleged the improper conduct took place from 1996 to 2007.

An Accenture spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In settlement documents, the company denied any wrongdoing and said it settled the case to avoid the uncertainty and expense of protracted litigation.

Monday’s agreement is the latest in a series of related settlements involving the alleged payment and receipt of kickbacks under government technology contracts.

Oracle agreed in January to pay $46 million to settle the allegations against Sun Microsystems, while EMC agreed to an $87.5 million settlement in 2010.

Other companies that have settled with the government include Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ) and Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO).

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