Feds consider barring Qwest

FRAMINGHAM (09/19/2003) - Qwest Communications International Inc. this week said the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) is considering barring the carrier from bidding on government business.

The GSA's evaluation results from last February's indictment of four former Qwest employees in connection with a transaction with the Arizona School Facilities Board in June 2001; and a civil complaint filed the same day by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission against the same former employees and others relating to that transaction and another with Genuity in 2000.

In both cases, Qwest reportedly inflated the amount of revenue derived from the deals.

The GSA slapped MCI with a similar prohibition in August citing questionable internal controls and business ethics. The GSA that month also started evaluating Sprint's ability to do business with the government following billing error of more than US$2 million.

Qwest says it is cooperating with the GSA and believes that it will remain a supplier to the government. The GSA has been reviewing Qwest's status as a supplier to the federal government since July 2002.

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