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United accused of falsifying postal records, to pay $49 million fine

Robert Besser
3 Mar 2021

United Airlines will pay $49.5 million to settle criminal fraud charges and civil claims pertaining to fraudulent conduct in violation of Postal Service contracts to transport mail internationally, the U.S. Justice Department has stated.

"United defrauded the US Postal Service by providing falsified parcel delivery information over a period of years and accepting millions of dollars of payments, to which the company was not entitled," Nicholas L. McQuaid, the Justice Department's acting criminal division chief, said.

United Airlines has yet to issue a statement regarding their actions.

The Justice Department revealed that during the 2012-2015 period, United defrauded the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) by handing over fabricated delivery scan data. The government claims that the automated delivery scans submitted by United did not align with the real mail movements and were based on aspirational timelines.

The government also stated that some United staff members deliberately intended "to hide the automation practices, and included efforts to revise the falsified delivery times to make the automated scans appear less suspicious to USPS."

United has expressed its willingness to bolster its compliance program and to update Justice Department records through submission of annual reports carrying details of its remediation efforts and application of its compliance program and internal controls.

The government drew attention to United having faltered earlier, including a 2016 non-prosecution agreement regarding bribery allegations over United operating a non-stop flight between NJ's Newark Liberty International Airport and Columbia Metropolitan Airport in South Carolina.

In 2019, American Airlines paid a fine of $22.1 million for citing incorrect mail transfer times regarding US postal service deliveries or for other intended recipients, according to the Justice Department.

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