Norwegian People’s Aid reaches a settlement with the U.S. government
Norwegian People’s Aid has reached agreement on a settlement with the U.S. authorities and will pay the U.S. authorities 2,025,000 U.S. Dollars due to an unintentional breach of a clause in an agreement made with USAID in 2012.
Norwegian People's Aid has a positive long-term relationship with USAID and other U.S.funding agencies since the early 1990s and has cooperated with them on various development, emergency aid and mine action programmes throughout the world.
Following a request from the USAID Office of Inspector General in February 2017, NPA submitted detailed information regarding a project in Gaza and a completed project in Iran. Neither of these projects was funded by USAID or other U.S. donors.
NPA cooperated fully with the request and shared all requested information in an open and transparent manner.
In September 2017, after several rounds of submitting documentation, NPA was informed by the United States authorities that the organisation was under investigation for non-compliance to a clause in an agreement made with USAID in 2012, following the filing of a claim by a third party. The alleged related to a certification made to USAID when NPA received funds to support an emergency aid mission in South Sudan in 2012.
Funding from USAID required that NPA submits an annual certification declaring no relation over the last ten years to countries, organisations or persons under embargo by U.S. government designations.
The settlement agreement follows claims from the U.S. government that NPA breached the U.S. False Claims Act when signing the USAID grant agreement in South Sudan, by failing to disclose NPA’s activities in support for a democratisation project for youth in Gaza from 2012-2016, and a demining project in Iran that ended in 2008, the latter an assignment for the Norwegian oil company Norsk Hydro.
This was done unintentionally by NPA, as NPA interpreted the above certification to apply only to activities funded by U.S. funds and not for activities funded by other donors. Activities mentioned in the settlement agreement were not funded by U.S. and were not in breach of any Norwegian laws. Moreover, the said USAID agreement for South Sudan was implemented in line with the project's objectives. The claim had nothing to do with the quality of emergency services NPA provided to the beneficiaries under that agreement.
“Although we have disagreed on the fairness of the claim, NPAhad accepted paying the settlement to reach closure. Due to the estimated costs, resources and time necessary to take this case to trial, we have concluded that the best decision for us is to agree on the settlement. In this way we can focus on our mission of making the world a safer and more just place,” said Henriette Westhrin.
"We will do our best to ensure that this does not affect the good, long-term relationship we have with our much appreciated U.S. donors,"said Westhrin.
The settlement will not have any direct impact on the operations of NPA.