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Caterer Fined $389M in Years-Long Pentagon Scam

Supreme Group pleads guilty to $48M fraud
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 9, 2014 6:35 AM CST
Caterer Fined $389M in Years-Long Pentagon Scam
Soldiers carry food supplies at Forward Operating Base Edi in the Helmand Province of southern Afghanistan, Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2011.   (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)

(Newser) – A firm that until last year provided food and water to 130,000 US soldiers in Afghanistan has pleaded guilty to fraud. Supreme Group, according to court papers, "devised and implemented a scheme to overcharge the United States" in an $8.8 billion contract, the Justice Department says in a press release. Now, the Netherlands-based company will pay fines of $389 million, the Wall Street Journal reports. "This is about soldiers in the desert being charged outrageous amounts of money for something like water, all for money," says a judge. "That’s pretty low."

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The scheme included charging some seven times what other suppliers would have charged for bottled water, resulting in an extra $48 million in costs. "We have gone to enormous steps to make sure this will never happen again," says a company officer, per Bloomberg. The deal doesn't bar Supreme from entering into new contracts with the US. The federal investigation followed a tip-off by a former Supreme employee. Several other contractors are also facing legal action amid fraud concerns, the Journal reports; in 2011, a congressional investigation found that contracted work had led to some $31 billion in waste. (Read more caterer stories.)

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