Tue. Jan 28th, 2020

Norweigian People’s Aid to pay $2.025 million in lawsuit settlement with United States

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Announces Settlement With Norwegian Not-For-Profit, Resolving Claims That It Provided Material Support To Iran, Hamas, And Other Prohibited Parties Under U.S. Law.

United States Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman and Inspector General for U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) filed and settled a civil fraud suit against Norwegina People’s Aid (NPA), a non-profit, non-governmental organization that receives funding from USAID.

The settlement payment was $2.025 million dollars for violations which include failing to report or misleading the government during its reporting period by providing material support to Iran, Hamas, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and designated nationals or blocked persons (the SDN list) against US federal funding requirements.

U.S. District Court Judge Gregory H. Woods approved a settlement agreement that resolves the Government’s claims against NPA.  Under the settlement, NPA is required to pay $2.025 million to the United States (that amount is based on an analysis of NPA’s ability to pay a monetary settlement), and it has revised its internal policies to ensure that it complies with applicable U.S. sanctions laws and the terms of its USAID grants.  In addition, in connection with the settlement, NPA has admitted to and accepted responsibility for its conduct.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “For years, Norwegian People’s Aid obtained grant money from USAID by falsely representing that it had not provided, and would take reasonable steps to ensure that it did not knowingly provide, material support to prohibited parties under U.S. law.  With this settlement, NPA is being made to pay a significant financial penalty for its conduct, and importantly, has admitted to its conduct and agreed to put proper precautions in place to ensure that it does not happen again.”

USAID Inspector General Ann Calvaresi Barr said:  “USAID depends on the integrity of its contractors and grantees to effectively reduce poverty, promote economic growth and democratic values, and deliver aid in crises worldwide.  Making false representations to secure grant funding not only violates U.S. law, it is a serious breach of trust.  And, when false claims hide an organization’s material support to designated terrorist organizations and a state sponsor of terrorism, the violation is all the more severe.  My office makes these cases a top priority and we will continue to investigate them aggressively.”

In connection with the filing of the lawsuit and settlement, the Government joined a private whistleblower lawsuit that previously had been filed under seal pursuant to the False Claims Act.

Mr. Berman thanked the USAID Office of Inspector General for its investigative efforts and assistance with the case.

The case is being handled by the Office’s Civil Frauds Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher B. Harwood is in charge of the case. (PR)