By Tess Stynes
W.W. Grainger Inc. (GWW) agreed to pay $70 million in a settlement of allegations that the hardware distributor submitted false claims under contracts with the U.S. General Services Administration and the U.S. Postal Service, according to the Justice Department.
The settlement resolves issues raised in a post-award General Services Administration audit that apparently showed the Illinois company failed to provide complete and accurate information about its commercial sales practices, including discounts provided to other customers, resulting in the administration paying higher prices, the DOJ said.
The accord also settles allegations that Grainger failed to meet contract requirements to prove "most favored customer" pricing under two Postal Service contracts for sanitation and maintenance supplies, the department said.
A Grainger spokesman wasn't immediately available to comment.
The company is often viewed as a proxy for the U.S. economy because of the its broad product lines and a diverse customer base that includes factories, hospitals and commercial real-estate operators.
Shares were down 56 cents at $198.88 in late trading. The stock is up 6.2% this year.
Write to Tess Stynes at [email protected]
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