Concept Schools breached False Claims Act by engaging in non-competitive bidding practices, says Justice Dept.
The US has slapped a $4.5 million fine on a Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO)-linked charter school for engaging in non-competitive bidding practices, according to the Justice Department.
The agency said on Tuesday that the state of Illinois-based Concept Schools violated the False Claims Act by engaging in non-competitive bidding practices in connection with the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) E-Rate Program.
The FETO-linked school "rigged the bidding for E-Rate contracts between 2009 and 2012 in favour of chosen technology vendors so that its network of charter schools located in several states, including Illinois, Ohio, and Indiana, selected the chosen vendors without a meaningful, fair and open bidding process," according to a statement.
The Concept Schools’ chosen vendors also provided equipment at higher prices than those approved by the FCC for equipment with the same functionality.
FETO charter school network in the US is a primary source of financing for businessmen associated with the group, which is listed as a terror group in Turkey and by many other countries.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Bossert Clark for the Department of Justice’s Civil Division vowed "serious consequences" for schools that seek to profit at US taxpayers' expense.
"Today’s settlement demonstrates our continuing vigilance to ensure that those doing business with the government do not engage in anticompetitive conduct," said Clark.
David Hunt, inspector general of the FCC, said those who harm the contracting process such as conspiring to rig competitive bidding "will not be tolerated and will be investigated aggressively."
FETO and its US-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated coup attempt of July 15, 2016 in Turkey, which killed at least 250 people and injured over 2,200.
Turkey accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary.