The United States has filed a complaint against Orlando, Florida, based Air Ideal Inc. and its owner, Kim Amkraut, for allegedly making false statements to the Small Business Administration (SBA) to obtain certification as a Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) company, the Justice Department announced today.
“The HUBZone program is intended to create jobs in areas that have historically had trouble attracting business,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Joyce R. Branda for the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “This suit demonstrates that the United States will hold accountable those who knowingly violate the requirements of this vital program.”
“The HUBZone procurement program imposes very clear requirements upon contractors that must be followed,” said U.S. Attorney A. Lee Bentley III for the Middle District of Florida. “By intervening in this case, we reaffirm our commitment to maintaining the integrity of vital programs such as these, which undergird our economy.”
Under the HUBZone program, companies that maintain their principal office in a designated HUBZone and meet certain other requirements can apply to the SBA for certification as a HUBZone small business company. HUBZone companies can then use this certification when bidding on government contracts. In certain cases, government agencies will restrict competition for a contract to HUBZone-certified companies.
The complaint alleges that Air Ideal and Kim Amkraut originally applied to the HUBZone program in 2010 by claiming that Air Ideal’s principal office was located in a designated HUBZone. The complaint further alleges that, in fact, this location was a “virtual office” where no Air Ideal employees worked and Air Ideal was actually located in a non-HUBZone location. Allegedly, the defendants not only misrepresented the location of Air Ideal’s principal office to the SBA, but also submitted to the SBA a fabricated lease agreement for its purported HUBZone office.
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