Leo Burnett Whistleblowers Collect $2.79m

08 January 2009

CHICAGO: The US Justice Department revealed that agency network Leo Burnett has reached a $15.5 million (€11.62m; £10.67m) settlement with the federal government following its alleged over-billing of the US Army while working on the Army of One campaign.

The deal, reached after a four year legal process, was sparked by two former Burnett employees who in 2004 a filed lawsuit claiming that the Publicis Groupe-owned agency had pumped-up the costs of subcontractors used on the campaign and, in addition, billing the work of its own internet unit in the guise of an external contractor.

The unnamed whistleblowers are to get a $2.79m share of the settlement, although the gripe which prompted them to spill the beans is not revealed.

Hands aloft in pious indignation, the agency denies malfeasance: "Leo Burnett believes the government's claims are without merit," it said.

It added that the settlement "will not affect Publicis Groupe's earnings as the sums concerned have been fully accrued in prior fiscal periods".

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff