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Washington (AFP) – The U.S. Navy has suspended a maritime services company for suspected overcharging, officials said Thursday, the second time in recent weeks that problems with ship supply contracts have been revealed.

The decision was taken “based upon evidence of conduct indicating questionable business integrity” by Inchcape Shipping Services Holding Ltd, according to Navy spokesman Admiral John Kirby.

He did not offer more details on alleged overbilling by the company, which is based in Britain and supplies naval ships in the Mediterranean and the Middle East.

Under the decision, the U.S. Navy will uphold existing contracts with Inchcape but will not renew or open new agreements with the firm, officials said.

The move comes as the U.S. Navy faces a widening bribery scandal involving another ship supply firm, Glen Defense Marine Asia (GDMA).

The Navy has canceled contracts with the Singapore-based GDMA and its CEO, Leonard Francis, has been charged by federal prosecutors with conspiring to bribe naval officers and officials with prostitutes and perks to secure lucrative contracts in Asia.

Officials said the suspension of Inchape was not related to the criminal case over GDMA’s activities.

Inchcape Shipping Services resupplies U.S. naval ships in the Fifth Fleet in the Middle East and the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean, while GDMA services vessels in Asian ports in the Seventh Fleet.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said last week the service was closely reviewing all its logistics contracts with companies that provide fuel, food, water, tugboats and other supplies to naval ships.

Inchcape describes itself as “one of the world’s leading maritime services providers” with operations in 66 countries. It is owned by Istithmar World, a subsidiary of Dubai World in the United Arab Emirates.

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Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

Jason Miller

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Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

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