Two sister companies contracted to do recovery work for Puerto Rico are accused of pocketing millions of dollars without fulfilling the terms of their government contracts.
The government hired Pikeville based Textile Corporation of America to manufacture tarps for Puerto Rico after the island was devastated by Hurricane Maria in 2017. TCA promised the Tennessee state government and the Tennessee Valley Authority, a federally-owned corporation, that it would create 1,000 new jobs at a textile mill in Pikeville, Tenn., and received the support of multiple state and federal officials.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency awarded TCA’s sister company Master Group USA a $30 million contract to produce 475,000 tarps for areas, mainly Puerto Rico, affected by hurricanes. FEMA awarded nearly $4 million before ending the contract.
The FBI filed affidavits in a federal court in Tennessee in October and February, alleging that TCA defrauded the TVA and the state of Tennessee by using fraudulent financial documents to secure millions of dollars in grant money. The Daily Beast first reported the affidavits Monday.
For example, TCA, owned by the brothers Karim and Rahim Sadruddin, requested and received an $850,000 reimbursement from the state for purchasing and renovating the Pikeville textile mill.
While the Sadruddin brothers did purchase the plant, “the Pikeville facility was not commercially operational as a textile manufacturing plant. No textiles were being produced,” the FBI said. “The wire transfer record submitted by Karim Sadruddin to obtain a reimbursement was in fact, fraudulent.”
MGUSA also used the TCA, funded by the state of Tennessee, to purchase tarps from China in violation of the Trade Agreements Act, which restricts the countries that can be used to source the purchase of goods for contracts with the federal government. The TCA used more than $1 million in grant money to purchase tarps for MGUSA, the FBI estimates.
The tarps shipped from China were rejected by FEMA over quality standards and questions about their sourcing. The FBI is trying to recover the misappropriated taxpayer funds.