Records show airport contract winner not allowed to do business in Ga.

by: Richard Belcher Updated:

None - Channel 2 Action News has learned that a politically well-connected company never even bothered to get approval to do business in Georgia before it won part of a contract at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport.

Channel 2's Richard Belcher found out a key figure in the company is a political supporter of Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed.

Records show the city tossed out the deal after a protest from the losing bidder.

But Belcher has been trying to find out why no one from the city noticed that the minority partner in the winning bid wasn't incorporated to do business in Georgia.

Records show the company didn't even apply for a corporate charter in Georgia until three months after it was named the winner of the airport contract.

The disputed deal is for currency exchange services, such as changing dollars to euros for international travelers.

In October, the current company, Travelex, was told it had lost the competition for a new contract even though it guaranteed the city substantially more money than the recommended winner.

Travelex tried unsuccessfully to persuade the city council not to approve the deal.

"The concerns are due to clear and obvious mistakes that were made and acknowledged by the city," Jon Dario, CEO of Travelex, said in front of the city council.

Two weeks after the council vote, the city's top purchasing official tossed out the deal because the minority partner for the winner, a company called Paracom, didn't have sufficient experience in the currency exchange business.


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But Belcher discovered something else about Paracom. Records show the company didn't even incorporate in Georgia until Jan. 20, fully three months after Paracom was notified that it was part of the winning bid.

Digging a little deeper Belcher found that a principal in Paracom is well-known Atlanta lawyer Gregory Worthy.

Channel 2 Action News found video of Worthy in the back of a Fulton County courtroom as Travelex -- his competitor -- argued its legal challenge to the city's handling of the currency exchange contract.

Campaign disclosure records show that Worthy has made more than $5,000 in political contributions to Reed.

Worthy's law firm and other lawyers in the firm contributed another $7,000.

The requirement that bidders be licensed to do business in Georgia is clearly listed in city documents, and the lawyers who filed the challenge against Paracom singled that out as one of several failings by the company.

Reed's communications director insists that the city wasn't required to check out whether Paracom was licensed in Georgia because Paracom was a subcontractor.


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