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SCANA kept quiet about a ‘potential fraud’ at SC nuclear project.

SCANA execs uncovered ‘potential fraud’ at SC nuclear project. They didn’t tell the cops.  By Andrew Brown abrown@postandcourier.com, Oct 8, 2018  COLUMBIA — SCANA’s executives in 2015 learned about a million-dollar bid-rigging scheme during the construction of their South Carolina nuclear project but never reported the discovery to state and federal law enforcement officials.

Rather, they kept the matter quiet to avoid negative publicity about the project, according to a source with direct knowledge, avoiding unwanted attention from regulators and the public.

The alleged fraud highlights the secrecy that SCANA’s leaders cloaked the failed $9 billion project in over the past decade. The previously undisclosed episode has come to light amid continued debate about why the project failed and who is responsible.

Documents show SCANA’s employees confirmed Compuworld, a company based in Lexington County, undermined the purchasing rules for the V.C. Summer nuclear expansion project in order to win contracts to supply office furniture.

An investigation by SCANA’s corporate compliance office showed Alan Saleeby, Compuworld’s owner, submitted bids for his business and allegedly forged the applications for two other companies — allowing him to rake in money while making the purchases look competitive.

SCANA hired attorneys from Atlanta to complete background checks on all of the people involved in the scheme. They studied whether the utility had to report the questionable purchases under federal nuclear oversight regulations. And they considered “possible civil and criminal fraud claims” against Chicago Bridge and Iron, the contractor that approved the purchases.

News of the suspicious activity traveled quickly to SCANA’s top executives as the company’s leaders worked behind the scenes to fix other aspects of the struggling power project. One of the nuclear project’s top executives flagged the case for SCANA’s nuclear chief Jeff Archie. In an email, the executive described the purchases as “potential fraud.”

……..  the allegations leveled against Compuworld mark the most serious issue yet with the purchasing process at V.C. Summer — a project now considered the biggest economic failure in state history.

SCANA inadvertently disclosed its investigation into Compuworld earlier this year in legal bills it filed with the state Public Service Commission. But since then, SCANA’s attorneys have fought to keep other emails and documents about the investigation secret.

Eric Boomhower, SCANA’s spokesman, confirmed that the utility quietly settled the issue with Chicago Bridge and Iron in late 2015. He described the investigation into Compuworld as a “financial dispute.”

SCANA’s investigators referred to it simply as fraud.

……… The investigation became more serious when SCANA discovered evidence that Saleeby also was submitting bids for companies that were purportedly competing against Compuworld. Email addresses and the handwriting on some of the documents showed Saleeby was personally filing the other offers, too, guaranteeing that Compuworld came out on top……… https://www.postandcourier.com/business/scana-execs-uncovered-potential-fraud-at-sc-nuclear-project-they/article_0eb5960a-c63b-11e8-a6a0-cf8c595ea1ed.html

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October 11, 2018 - Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA

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