The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas released a statement July 14 announcing that Anahuac Transport Inc. of Anahuac, Texas, has been fined and sanctioned after admitting to fraud. Forms regarding the cleanliness and sanitation of tankers that hauled fuel for NASA and the Department of Defense (DoD) were falsified. According to the Safer website, Anahuac has 35 power units and 35 drivers.
“Dedicated contracts require dedicated equipment”
If you’re a business with highly lucrative contracts with SpaceX, NASA, and the DOD, wouldn’t you want to purchase dedicated equipment for the very specialized fuels and reactants needed in their programs? That’s a question I’d love to ask Anahuac Transport Inc. after the U.S. Attorney’s office investigated the company for fraud.
Anahuac Transport Inc. has been ordered to forfeit $251,401 in gross proceeds in addition to paying a fine of $275,000. The company has also been ordered to serve three years of corporate probation.
The sanction of “corporate probation” is hard to define. In layman’s terms, corporate probation describes a period of time during which a company must satisfy certain conditions and must keep the court apprised of its compliance.
The tanker business is very particular about what’s been in that tank
The tanker world is a whole different ball game than the rest of the trucking industry. Some companies want to know the entire history of what’s been in that particular tanker trailer. The contracts Anahuac handled appear to be those exact types. However, instead of buying or leasing some dedicated tankers just for its contracts, it seems that the company used whatever tankers were available.
From around 2012 through 2020, NASA and DoD subcontracted Anahuac to transport the fuel. The company’s leadership should have known the federal government would test the cargoes.
Anahuac was required to ensure that the tanker-trailer(s) it used did not previously contain certain chemicals that may have adverse reactions with the fuel. But Anahuac “intentionally falsified its documents,” claiming it had not previously hauled incompatible chemicals in its tanker-trailers. That did not sit well with the federal government.
The fallout from the fuel fiasco
As noted above, U.S. District Judge Alfred H. Bennett ordered the company to serve three years on corporate probation and to pay an additional fine of $275,000. Corporate representatives Gary Monteau and Brant Charpiot admitted their guilt on February 23 on behalf of the company and agreed to forfeit $251,401 in payments that it obtained.
At the time of the plea, Monteau, Charpiot and Anahuac Transport Inc. entered voluntary exclusions with the United States in which each agreed to be banned from federal government contracting for two years.
Take their failures as a lesson – if you’re going to work dedicated contracts, especially with the government or Elon, buy dedicated equipment and keep your paperwork legit.