Pubic sector services giant G4S is currently, with Serco, under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office and is nevertheless a contender for providing security to the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games, in spite of its disastrous failure to deliver on its security contract for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
G4S has now admitted overcharging the UK Government by £24 million for monitoring tagged prisoners.
It has been alleged that each of the two companies concerned billed for services in respect of prisoners who were no longer tagged either because their sentence was spent or they were back in jail; and in respect of prisoners who had died.
In doing so. G4S offered to write the government a credit note for the amount. The offer has been refused. The corporate insouciance in making such an offer is revelatory.
But more seriously, in its admission, a spokesperson said that the company’s mistake was that ‘it had wrongly considered itself to be contractually entitled to bill for monitoring services when equipment had not been fitted or after it had been removed.’
This remark raises the most serious questions about each partner to this contract.
Has G4S reason to believe that any public sector contract would confer these sorts of billing entitlements – which would be a serious fraud on the taxpayer?
If G4S had no reason to believe it was contractually so entitled, why was it comfortable in committing a fraud of this scale on the public purse?