Washington: The US military paid USD 285 billion over three years to hundreds of military contractors that defrauded the Pentagon over the same stretch of time, a US senator charged on Wednesday.
Brandishing a 45-page January 2011 US Department of Defence report on the issue, Independent Senator Bernie Sanders called for "far more vigorous enforcement" by the US military "to protect taxpayers from massive fraud”.
"The sad truth is that virtually all of the major defence contractors in this country for years have been engaged in systemic fraudulent behaviour, while receiving hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayer money," he charged.
Sanders underlined that the report, which his office made public, showed that from 2007-2009 the Pentagon spent USD 270 billion on 91 contractors involved in fraud cases that yielded judgments of more than USD 1 million.
The Pentagon also spent USD 683 million over the same period on 30 contractors convicted of criminal fraud charges, and "billions more" went to firms that it had suspended or barred for misusing government funds, said Sanders.
The senator, who represents the small northeastern state of Vermont, highlighted a section of the report in which the Pentagon declared existing remedies as "sufficient”.