Staples pays false claims settlement

Staples has paid $7.4 million to settle allegations that it submitted false claims when it sold office supply products manufactured in countries not permitted by the Trade Agreements Act to U.S. government agencies, the Justice Department announced today.

Staples Contract and Commercial, a division of office products retailer Staples, paid the settlement. Justice had been pursuing allegations that the company sold products from countries that do not have reciprocal trade agreements with the United States, including China and Taiwan. The company's General Services Administration contract forbids it to sell such products to agencies.

"Federal contractors will be held accountable for their violations of procurement regulations," said Peter Keisler, assistant attorney general of Justice’s Civil Division, in a prepared statement. "This settlement is an example of the department's determination to ensure that federal funds are protected from fraud and abuse."

Earlier this year, Justice reached a $9.8 million settlement with OfficeMax and a $4.75 million settlement with Office Depot based on the same allegations. All three settlements grew out of a whistleblower case filed in 2003 by Safina Office Products and two of its executives, Edward Wilder and Robert Hsi Chou Lee, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

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