Defense contractor Raytheon looks to be in the hot seat now that a whistleblower has brought a suit claiming fraud, waste, and abuse on Raytheon’s part. Among other violations, it is alleged that Raytheon employees encouraged workers in Afghanistan to report that they worked ten hours a day, six days a week, when they often worked as little as two hours a day.
Submitting claims for payment to the federal government that are based on fraudulent activity, such as deliberately misrepresenting hours worked, is a violation of the False Claims Act (FCA). Ordinary citizens can sue on behalf of the government by bringing a qui tam case as a whistleblower.
Lt. Col. Steven Kalch, US Army, Ret., claims that, from 2012 to 2014, he observed a number of instances involving fraud while training Afghan security forces and working for Raytheon, including “gross mismanagement and misuse of government property.” He also alleges that Raytheon fired him subsequent to his efforts to report the fraud and he was terminated in January 2014.
Under the contract that Raytheon signed with the government, the workers who trained Afghanis were supposed to labor 10 hours a day, six days a week, earning more than $175,000 for doing so.
However, Kalch alleges he saw many trainers put in less than two hours a day total and spend even less time with the Afghanis they were hired to train. In one case, the whistleblower asserts in the suit, one trainer would return to camp a mere half-hour after he left to do the training he contracted to do. Kalch also contends that he witnessed a Raytheon intelligence officer on duty while “highly intoxicated.”
At least three times, Lt. Col. Kalch informed contracting officers of fraud by Raytheon with regard to the training. But he allegedly suffered various kinds of harassment for doing so, such as:
- A superior demanding that Kalch go get the mail every time there was a reported threat to kill an American on the base.
- A theft of money by an Afghan commander documented by Kalch was taken by a superior to another Afghan commander, which put Kalch at great personal risk.
- When Kalch went to a higher-up Raytheon superior about the above matter, he was told to avoid putting complaints in writing from then on.
Lt. Col. Kalch, originally from Norwood, Missouri, served in the Army as an officer from 1981 to 2015. He was deployed six times, to Afghanistan, Kuwait, Iraq, and Germany.
The Raytheon Company, headquartered in Waltham, Massachusetts, specializes in weapons systems and electronics and is a well-known defense contractor. Raytheon succeeded in getting the case moved from Missouri to central Florida by arguing that the supervisor who sanctioned Kalch’s termination is based there.
No date has been set for the trial.
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