Contra Costa Times
WATSONVILLE – Granite Construction will pay $1.1 million of a $4.6 million settlement involving government allegations that a joint venture led by Granite had submitted false claims relating to the hiring of minority contractors.
Granite will pay less than 25 percent of the total settlement even though it had 56.5 percent interest in the $330 million project to build a 12-mile light rail project from the Mall of America to Minneapolis.
The project was completed in 2004. Two years later, the Department of Justice initiated an investigation into allegations that the Minnesota Transit Constructors, the joint venture, had failed to comply with federal Disadvantaged Business Enterprise regulations on the Hiawatha Corridor Light Rail Project.
Granite and its joint-venture partners deny all allegations and admitted no fault or liability as part of the agreement. In a prepared statement, James Roberts, Granite president and chief executive officer, described the claims as disappointing and incorrect but said the settlement would avoid costly litigation.
“The project was a success in part because of our team’s good-faith efforts and commitment to solicit and encourage DBE participation on the project,” Roberts said. “We continue our commitment to the success of DBE businesses across the country and devote significant resources to ensure that DBE businesses have the greatest chance of success on our projects.”
Granite’s portion of the settlement is in company reserves, according to the company. There are no limitations on Granite or its joint-venture partners regarding future contracts with the federal government or the Minnesota Department of Transportation.