Stephanie Ostrowski Nov. 26, 2012, 12:52pm

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - A Virginia-based contractor is facing a complaint filed by the U.S. Department of Justice for allegedly submitting false claims for unqualified security guards under a contract to provide security in Iraq, the Justice Department announced Oct. 31.

The company, Triple Canopy, was awarded one-year $10 million contract to perform a variety of security services at the second largest air base in Iraq, Al Asad Airbase, in June 2009 by the Joint Contracting Command in Iraq/Afghanistan.

In the complaint, the government alleges that Triple Canopy hired hundreds of foreign national security guards who could not meet firearms proficiency tests established by the Army and required under contract, and knowingly billed the U.S.

There are also allegations that Triple Canopy's managers in Iraq falsified test scores to hide and induce the government to pay for the unqualified guards. Even after high-level officials at the company's headquarters became aware of the misconduct, Triple Canopy continued to bill the government, the DOJ says.

Furthermore, the complaint alleges Triple Canopy used false records to maintain the image of good standings and become awarded with a second-year contract.

The firearms proficiency tests ensure that security guards hired to protect the U.S. and allied personnel are capable of firing their AK-47 assault rifles and other weapons in a safe and accurate manner.

"We will not tolerate government contractors anywhere in the world who seek to defraud the United States through deliberate or reckless conduct that violates contractual requirements and risks the security of government personnel," said Neil H. MacBride, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.

The government claims are based on a whistleblower suite initially filed by a former employee of Triple Canopy in 2011. Under the qui tam or whistleblower provision of the False Claims Act, the government has a period of time to investigate the allegations before deciding whether to intervene in the action or to decline intervention and allow the whistleblower to go forward alone.

Currently the claims against Triple Canopy are allegations only. There has yet to be a determination of liability.

The government is not aware of any injuries that occurred as a result of the alleged misconduct.

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Alexandria, and is captioned United States ex rel. Badr v. Triple Canopy, Inc.

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