UK rejects G4S repayment offer for overcharging

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

LONDON (AP) — The British government on Tuesday rejected an offer from security firm G4S to refund more than 23 million pounds ($37 million) after the company apologized for overcharging taxpayers for its electronic tagging of prisoners.

The Ministry of Justice said it was still working to determine how much money was improperly billed by G4S and by Serco, a second company involved in the overcharging scandal.

Britain's Serious Fraud Office is investigating the allegations, including reports that the government was billed for monitoring criminals who had died.

G4S said in a statement Tuesday that an independent inquiry into its activities did not find any evidence of dishonesty or criminal activity. G4S chief executive Ashley Almanza said the repayment offer was "an important step" toward restoring trust in the company.

The National Audit Office said the companies charged for monitoring offenders who had been returned to prison and others who had had their tags removed or had not been properly tagged to begin with.

G4S says it had "wrongly considered" itself authorized to bill the government in some cases when equipment had not been installed or had already been removed. However, it said this practice "was not consistent" with its contract or its values.

The company was heavily criticized last year for failing to meet the terms of its contract to provide protection at the 2012 London Olympics.

Christopher Hyman, the chief executive of Serco at the time, stepped down in October, saying he hoped his departure would help his company rebuild its relationship with the British government.