Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Security Firm G4S Under Scrutiny After It Emerges Orlando Shooter Was Employee
Lucas Shaw and Benjamin Katz
Bloomberg News
June 13, 2016 8:01 AM ET

G4S Plc’s approach to the vetting of its security personnel is under scrutiny after it emerged that Florida nightclub killer Omar Mateen had been working with the world’s biggest guarding company for almost a decade.

Mateen, who declared allegiance to terror group Islamic State in the hours before the largest mass shooting in U.S. history, had been working at a gated retirement community prior to the deaths in Orlando, G4S confirmed Monday.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation had studied Mateen twice, each time dropping its enquiries, according to an agency spokesman. U.K.-based G4S said it had learned of the FBI’s interest in 2013 but was unaware of any further probe, adding that the 29-year-old had passed its own screening processes.

“Mateen underwent company screening and background checks when he was recruited in 2007 and the check revealed nothing of concern,” G4S said. “His screening was repeated in 2013 with no findings. We were not made aware of any alleged connections between Mateen and terrorist activities.”

Mateen, a U.S. citizen, died in a gun battle with police after the mass shooting on Sunday at the gay venue, which killed 50 people and wounded 53.

G4S, whose clients in more than 100 countries include the U.S. government, is cooperating with the FBI, John Kenning, its chief executive officer for North America, said in a statement. “We are shocked and saddened by the tragic event that occurred at the Orlando nightclub,” he said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with all of the friends, families and people affected by this unspeakable tragedy.”

Shares of G4S fell as much as 8.1 per cent when trading began Monday. The stock had already declined 34 per cent in 12 months, dropping the most in three years on March 9 after a wave of migrants to the U.K. led to increased losses on a contract to house asylum seekers.

Sullied Reputation

G4S also failed to supply enough security guards for the 2012 Olympics in London, forcing the government to deploy members of the armed services in order to make up the numbers and prompting the company’s then CEO to admit that its reputation was “in tatters.”

The Crawley, England-based company later took a financial hit over claims that it overcharged authorities for electronic tagging of criminals. More recently, it suspended seven staff at a juvenile correctional facility after allegations that guards used excessive force and one child was stabbed with a fork.

G4S was consistently one of the biggest contractors with the U.S. federal government after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, mostly with the departments of Homeland Security and State, according to Kevin Brancato, an analyst with Bloomberg Government. The firm’s deals with the government shrank to US$89.3 million in 2015, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The company employs 611,000 people worldwide, running prisons, providing security at airports and ports, and managing cash transports, according to its website. Its U.S. headquarters are in Jupiter, Florida, about 150 miles southeast of Orlando.

“They are a considerably smaller player in the federal space than they used to be,” Brancato said.

Born in New York to Afghan parents, Mateen was licensed as a security guard in Florida, according to state records. Mateen was married in 2009 and divorced in 2011, a woman who identified herself as Mateen’s ex-wife told the Washington Post on the condition that her name not be used.

G4S was priced 5.8 per cent lower at 176.50 pence as of 10:26 a.m. in London, reducing the company’s market value to 2.74 billion pounds (US$3.9 billion).


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