United Technologies Corporation (UTC) has been ordered to repay the U.S. government $473 million for its its overpriced sale of jet engines to the United States government in the 80s and 90s. The appellate court’s decision is the latest in the battle between the UTC subsidiary, Pratt & Whitney, and the government, that started in 1999.
During the bidding for the project to build engines for F-15 and F-16 fighter jets, the government alleges that Pratt & Whitney made false claims regarding the cost of the production of the engines in order to win the contract. At the time of the contract competition, Pratt & Whitney’s major competitor was General Electric. In the end the companies split the $7 billion contract for the construction of the engines.
“Some companies go to great lengths to defraud the government. Often, the only way that these instances of cheating American taxpayers are exposed and prosecuted is by the courageous efforts of whistleblowers to come forward and expose the fraudulent activity,” commented Christopher Paulos, an attorney with the Levin, Papantonio law firm who handles whistleblower and false claims litigation.
United Technologies Corporation disputes the court’s recent decision and plans to appeal. “We strongly disagree with the court’s opinion concerning the Fighter Engine Campaign from the 1980s,” Ian Race said on behalf of UTC.
In the initial lawsuit, the government sought $75 million plus interest and other damages. Throughout the course of the appellate and litigation process, that amount has steadily risen.
Despite the prior misrepresentation, Pratt & Whitney is contracted to produce the engine for the F-35 fighter jet. As of yesterday, the company announced that it had delivered its 100th engine in the series.
Joshua is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire.