Lawsuit: Austal USA falsified employees' rank and work hours data to overbill the military

A lawsuit accuses Austal USA of knowingly overbilling the the federal government for work while building ships for the military, misrepresenting the rank and work hours of employees to sustain defense contracts for its Mobile River shipyard.

The claim is being lodged by five former employees, who jointly filed suit as whistleblowers on behalf of the U.S. government. The plaintiffs -- William Gates, Clinton Roundtree, James Trainer, Tami Andrews and Hannah Christopher -- allege that Austal violated the False Claims Act. The 150-year-old law allows citizens to recover a portion of damages received from a favorable lawsuit brought against a government contractor for fraud.

The suit was first filed in June 2014 but was kept under a seal, as the law requires. U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. "Ginny" Granade ordered on March 2 the case be unsealed, allowing Austal to be served a copy of the complaint.

Austal officials were not immediatel....

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