Whistleblower Protection Blog

Whistleblower Protection Blog

Advocating Whistleblower Rights for over Twenty Years

Senators advise IRS to be more receptive to whistleblowers

Posted in Tax Whistleblowers

In an editorial published yesterday in Politico Magazine, Senators Ron Wyden and Chuck Grassley criticize the IRS whistleblower program. The editorial, “Will the IRS Ever Listen?” states that the backlog on cases is too long and that the IRS needs to better manage its relationships with whistleblowers.  They point out that 799 whistleblower claims made prior to 2007 remain open.

The Senators made reference to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen’s August 2014 Policy statement, stating they hope his “message is just the beginning of real reforms in the way whistleblowers are treated.” But state that while there has been some success with the IRS whistleblower program that they routinely hear complaints from whistleblowers about how the IRS handles their cases. Continue Reading

The False Claims Act Works

Posted in False Claims / Qui Tam

The Chamber of Commerce has commenced a well-financed and aggressive lobbying campaign to undermine America’s most effective whistleblower law, the False Claims Act. To justify its anti-whistleblower campaign the Chamber published a report entitled, “Fixing the False Claims Act: the Case For Compliance-Focused Reforms.” This is the first posts in a series the purpose of which is to combat the Chamber’s misinformation, and explain why the False Claims Act must be protected.

Whistleblowers and their supporters are strongly urged to read this blog series and share it with friends. In addition, an Action Alert has been issued by the National Whistleblower Center so members of the public inform their representatives that the False Claims Act should not be “reformed” as proposed by the Chamber.

Fact Number 1:

As demonstrated in the graph below, the FCA’s reward provisions have worked, causing even the Chamber of Commerce to concede that the FCA is the “most important tool to uncover and punish fraud against the United States.” In the graph (source), the qui tam recoveries (represented in orange) are those exclusively derived from whistleblower FCA disclosures.  The recoveries obtained by the government that are not directly and explicitly tied to whistleblowers are represented in blue, (i.e. the “Non-Qui Tam” recoveries).  As can be seen, the amount of actual recoveries obtained on behalf of the taxpayers from dishonest government contractors has grown significantly over the years, as employees have become aware of the FCA and utilized its qui tam procedures.  Continue Reading

September/October SEC Whistleblower Award List

Posted in News

The SEC Office of the Whistleblower post Notices of Covered Action where a final judgment or order, by itself or together with other prior judgments or orders in the same action issued after July 21, 2010, results in monetary sanctions exceeding $1 million.Subject to the Final Rules, individuals who voluntarily provided the Commission with original information after July 21, 2010 that led to the successful enforcement of a covered action listed below are eligible to apply for a whistleblower award.Once a Notice of Covered Action is posted, individuals have 90 calendar days to apply for an award.

View the updated list below:  Continue Reading

Whistleblowers Recover $398 Million For U.S. Taxpayers

Posted in False Claims / Qui Tam

The False Claims Act is widely acknowledged as the most important tool for uncovering fraud.  The majority of fraud cases filed by the government are triggered by whistleblower disclosures.  Recent press releases from the Department of Justice report that whistleblowers in five separate cases recovered a total of more than $398 million for U.S. Taxpayers.  These cases were originally brought under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act. The settlements are listed below:

DaVita to Pay $350 Million to Resolve Allegations of Illegal Kickbacks

DaVita Healthcare Partners, Inc., one of the leading providers of dialysis services in the United States, has agreed to pay $350 million to resolve claims that it violated the False Claims Act by paying kickbacks to induce the referral of patients to its dialysis clinics, the Justice Department announced today. DaVita is headquartered in Denver, Colorado and has dialysis clinics in 46 states and the District of Columbia.

Florida Home Health Care Company and its Owners Agree to Resolve False Claims Act Allegations for $1.65 Million

 A Plus Home Health Care Inc. and its owners, Tracy Nemerofsky and her father, Stephen Nemerofsky, have agreed to pay $1.65 million to the United States to settle allegations that A Plus paid spouses of referring physicians for sham marketing positions in order to induce patient referrals, the Justice Department announced today.  A Plus is a home health care company located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  Continue Reading

DOJ Releases Report on FBI Whistleblower Protections

Posted in News

Yesterday, Senators Chuck Grassley and Ron Wyden expressed optimism that Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) whistleblowers may receive better protection under new guidelines outlined in a proposal to President Barack Obama.  The Department of Justice forwarded a copy of the Attorney General’s report titled “Department of Justice Report on Regulations Protecting FBI Whistleblowers.”  As I wrote in a previous post, the Senators requested a copy of this long overdue report in August 2014.

“Nobody’s got on rose-colored glasses that the culture for whistleblowers at the FBI will change anytime soon, but many of the items outlined in the FBI’s analysis are promising.  I’m not a fan of all of the recommendations, but it would at least be a step forward if some of them are actually implemented and carried out.  That said, in an agency with so much focus on the chain of command, it makes no sense for the FBI to be the only agency in the federal government not to protect disclosures of waste, fraud, and abuse to immediate supervisors,” Grassley said. Continue Reading

NWC Fights Back Chamber of Commerce/KBR Attack on Whistleblowers at Supreme Court

Posted in False Claims / Qui Tam, News

Washington, D.C. October 22, 2014. Yesterday, the National Whistleblower Center filed a “friend of court” brief in Kellogg Brown & Root Services, Inc. v. United States ex rel. Carter before the U.S. Supreme Court.  The extensive brief delivers a full rebuttal of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (Chamber) and Kellogg Brown & Root’s (KBR) attack on the integrity of whistleblowers.

The Chamber and its corporate allies (in this case KBR) are attempting convince the Supreme Court to narrow the scope of whistleblowers eligible to file cases under the False Claims Act. Their position would block whistleblowers with key original information on government fraud from filing their cases by a hyper technical technicality. Continue Reading

ARB Decision Promotes Clarity And Uniformity In Whistleblower Cases

Posted in Department of Labor, News

In a long-overdue decision issued on October 9, 2014, the Department of Labor Administrative Review Board (ARB) finally clarified the standard of proof for employees to establish the “contributing factor” test in whistleblower retaliation cases arising under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act  (SOX) and other whistleblower statutes.  In a 2-to-1 panel decision in Fordham v. Fannie Mae, ARB No. 12-061, the ARB reversed and vacated an Administrative Law Judge’s recommended decision that had improperly weighed Fannie Mae’s defenses in determining whether the employee had demonstrated her whistleblowing was a contributing factor in her termination.

The majority opinion noted that Congress had created the “contributing factor” test to lower the standard of proof needed in whistleblower cases, and that once a “contributing factor” is shown the burden of proof shifts to the employer to prove by “clear and convincing” evidence that it would have taken the same action in the absence of the employee’s whistleblowing. Continue Reading

FBI Continues Culture of Retaliation Against Whistleblowers

Posted in News

Yesterday, Senator Chuck Grassley announced that 11 whistleblowers have come forward revealing that FBI managers are now using Loss of Effectiveness orders to retaliate against FBI employees who report wrongdoing in the agency.

“Every time we bring this to the administration’s attention, more whistleblowers come forward,” Grassley said.  “These whistleblowers never have the opportunity to make their case.  It’s stereotypical treatment of whistleblowers for the executive branch.”

An FBI internal inquiry reportedly agrees that this is a problem.  According to whistleblowers, the FBI Office of Integrity and Compliance has drafted a report calling for reform and more transparency in the use of Loss of Effectiveness orders. Continue Reading

Attorney General Supports Increased Whistleblower Protections Under Federal Banking Laws FIRREA

Posted in False Claims / Qui Tam, News

New York City, New York. September 17, 2014.  In a speech delivered today at New York University School of Law, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder publicly endorsed enlarging U.S. whistleblower reward laws to include expanded rewards under the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act, better known as “FIRREA.”

The Attorney General acknowledged the tremendous success of other whistleblower reward laws, explaining how incentivizing whistleblowers would “significantly improve the Justice Department’s ability to gather evidence of wrongdoing while complex financial crimes are still in progress – making it easier to complete investigations and to stop misconduct before it becomes so widespread that it foments the next crisis.”

Stephen M. Kohn, Executive Director of the National Whistleblower Center, strongly praised Holder’s proposal:  Continue Reading

Recent SEC Whistleblower Awards

Posted in Corporate Whistleblowers

Compliance Professional Awarded $300,000 by SEC

Whistleblower Came to SEC After Reporting Fraud Internally and Company Failed to Take Action

On August 29, 2014, The Securities and Exchange Commission announced a whistleblower award of more than $300,000 to a company employee who performed audit and compliance functions and reported wrongdoing to the SEC after the company failed to take action when the employee reported it internally.

It’s the first award for a whistleblower with an audit or compliance function at a company.

“Individuals who perform internal audit, compliance, and legal functions for companies are on the front lines in the battle against fraud and corruption.  They often are privy to the very kinds of specific, timely, and credible information that can prevent an imminent fraud or stop an ongoing one,” said Sean McKessy, Chief of the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower.  “These individuals may be eligible for an SEC whistleblower award if their companies fail to take appropriate, timely action on information they first reported internally.”  Continue Reading