Twin Cities construction and development company Mortenson Co. will pay Colorado authorities $650,000 for the company's alleged role in a bid-rigging scheme for the renovation of the Colorado Convention Center, the Colorado Attorney General's Office announced Monday.
As part of the settlement, Mortenson will also have to donate construction services for a project, valued at least $650,000, to be built in response to needs arising from COVID-19.
The agreement, which also names several company executives based in Colorado, is the result of a more than yearlong investigation by the attorney general's office into whether Mortenson violated the Colorado Antitrust Act when the company competed to become general contractor of the $233 million convention center expansion project in Denver.
According to the attorney general's office, the investigation uncovered "strong evidence" that after the city began to move forward with plans to expand and upgrade the convention center in 2018, employees from Mortenson and Dallas-based Trammell Crow Co., the city's program manager, exchanged "nonpublic and confidential information about the project and procurement process that was not shared with other prospective bidders" that "unfairly benefited Mortenson and disrupted the procurement process."
Mortenson has since entered an agreement with the city of Denver that it would not bid on any additional city work until March 2021. However, the company denied any wrongdoing.
"Today's announcement shows we will hold accountable those companies and individuals that undermine the competitive bidding process when they bid for public construction projects and put millions of taxpayer dollars at risk," said Attorney General Phil Weiser in a statement.
In addition to the funds Mortenson will pay the Colorado Department of Law, Mortenson will pay all costs of service and construction, including building materials and costs of any subcontractor and design services contracted to complete a COVID-19 related project. Details about the specific project haven't been announced.
"We hold ourselves to high ethical standards at Mortenson and how we conduct business is essential to our customers, business partners, team members and the communities where we live and work," Mortenson CEO and President Dan Johnson said in a statement. "While we have resolved the Colorado Convention Center matter with the Colorado Attorney General without adjudication or finding of liability, our involvement in this matter was neither consistent with who we are as a company nor our longstanding reputation. Simply put, we did not meet our own expectations."
The settlement requires Mortenson to establish an internal compliance program and disclose the existence of the agreement when it bids on any public construction projects in Colorado in the next two years, along with adopting additional policies.
In February, it was announced as part of another settlement that Golden Valley-based Mortenson would shoulder some of the $21 million cost of the replacement of the leaky black zinc panels that form the exterior of U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
Mortenson, which served as general contractor when the stadium was built nearly four years ago, will split the costs with seven other companies involved in the construction.