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Oracle sued for alleged fraud against US gov

'Ten of millions of dollars in overcharges'

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The US Justice Department has sued Oracle, claiming the software giant overcharged the federal government by "tens of millions of dollars".

The complaint against Oracle was originally filed by an Oracle employee, who alleged that large discounts offered to other customers were hidden from government agencies. Paul Frascella — who no longer works for Oracle — accused his employer of a "scheme...to defraud the United States government by failing to disclose deep discounts offered to commercial customers".

According to court documents filed with the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Oracle was required — under General Service Administration (GSA) Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) contracts — to offer the government the "best price given to the most favored customer". These MAS contracts allow government agencies to purchase goods from a common catalog without renegotiating with the vendor.

Frascella filed his complaint in May 2007 under the False Claims Act, which allows employees to blow the whistle when they believe their company has defrauded the government, and the Department of Justice joined the complaint in April of this year. When the DoJ joined, the court papers were unsealed.

In 1997, Frascella joined Oracle as a contract specialist in its commercial sales department, and though the company trained him not to offer commercial discounts beyond what was offered to government under "GSA rules", according to the court papers, it later instituted various schemes to avoid these restrictions. Among other things, Frascella alleges, Oracle would sell software to a reseller and the reseller would then sell it to the customer at a price well below the GSA minimum. ®

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