A federal grand jury returned an indictment against Belgium-based Seris Security NV (Seris) and three executives for their roles in a conspiracy to fix prices, rig bids and allocate customers for defense-related security services, including a multimillion-dollar contract issued in 2020 to provide security services to the U.S. Department of Defense for military bases and installations in Belgium. This is the second charge and first indictment involving an international conspiracy obtained by the Procurement Collusion Strike Force (PCSF) and follows G4S Secure Solution NV’s (G4S) agreement to plead guilty in the investigation.
“The companies and individuals indicted are alleged to have rigged bids submitted to the U.S. Department of Defense and others, and abused the public trust placed in them as providers of security services at critical locations,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Richard A. Powers of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. “We are committed to prosecuting procurement collusion that victimizes U.S. government agencies, wherever it occurs, and we are determined to hold those who seek to exploit U.S. government programs accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”
“Today’s announcement demonstrates the culmination of extremely well-coordinated, diligent and tireless efforts by the FBI and our law enforcement partners working on the Procurement Collusion Strike Force to root out collusion that targets U.S. taxpayer dollars funding contracts overseas,” said Assistant Director in Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. of the FBI’s New York Field Office.
“The Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) is committed to protecting the integrity of the Department of Defense procurement system,” said Deputy Director Paul K. Sternal of DCIS. “This indictment demonstrates our resolve, alongside Department of Justice and Procurement Collusion Strike Force partners, to bring those who corrupt the competitive DoD contracting process and endanger U.S. national security to justice.”
The indictment, returned in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, charges former G4S Chief Executive Officer Jean Paul Van Avermaet; Seris Security NV (Seris); former Seris Chief Executive Officer Danny Vandormael; and former Seris Director of Guarding & Monitoring Peter Verpoort with conspiring to fix prices, rig bids and allocate customers for contracts for the provision of security services that protect the national security interests of the United States in Belgium. All of the defendants worked in Belgium and are Belgian nationals.
According to the indictment, the charged individuals, on behalf of their companies, along with other co-conspirators, participated in a conspiracy to fix prices, rig bids and allocate customers for contracts to provide security services in Belgium, including contracts for the U.S. Department of Defense and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Those services included protecting military buildings and installations via the physical presence of guards, mobile monitoring and electronic surveillance. As part of the conspiracy, the conspirators agreed in advance which company would win certain security services contracts, and the price that each would bid for the contracts. As a result, the government received non-competitive and inflated bids, and was deprived of a competitive bidding process. The charged conspiracy began as early as spring 2019 and continued until as late as summer 2020.
The defendants are each charged with a violation of the Sherman Act, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1 million fine for individuals and a $100 million fine for corporations. The maximum fine for a Sherman Act charge may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by the victims of the crime if either amount is greater than the statutory maximum fine.
The Antitrust Division’s New York Office is prosecuting the case, which was investigated with the assistance of the FBI’s International Corruption Unit New York Field Office, the DCIS’ New York Resident Agency and the Transnational Operations Field Office, the U.S. Army CID’s Major Procurement Fraud Unit, and other PCSF partners in Europe. Special thanks to the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, and the Office of Inspector General for the Department of State for their assistance.
In November 2019, the Department of Justice created the PCSF, a joint law enforcement effort to combat antitrust crimes and related fraudulent schemes that impact government procurement, grant, and program funding at all levels of government – federal, state and local. In fall 2020, the Strike Force expanded its footprint with the launch of PCSF: Global, which is designed to deter, detect, investigate and prosecute collusive schemes that target government spending outside of the United States.
To contact the PCSF, or to report information on market allocation, price fixing, bid rigging and other anticompetitive conduct related to the security services industry, go to https://www.justice.gov/procurement-collusion-strike-force.
An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.