Whistleblower Protection Blog

Whistleblower Protection Blog

Advocating Whistleblower Rights for over Twenty Years

Senate to Hold Hearing on FBI’s Treatment of Whistleblowers

Posted in Events, FBI Whistleblowers, News
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Washington, D.C. February 27, 2015. The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing entitled  “Whistleblower Retaliation at the FBI: Improving Protections and Oversight,” on Wednesday, March 4, 2015 at 10am in the Committee’s main hearing room, 226 Dirksen.

Witnesses include Department of Justice Inspector General,  a current FBI whistleblower and Stephen M. Kohn, Executive Director of the National Whistleblower Center and author of The Whistleblower’s Handbook.

According to Kohn, “This hearing will be an eye opener to the internal operations of the FBI.”

Mr. Kohn has represented FBI whistleblowers continuously since 1993 and was lead counsel on the case of Whitehurst v. FBI, which compelled President Clinton to order the DOJ to implement whistleblower protections in 1997.

Information on two other National Whistleblower Center supported FBI cases is linked here:  Jane Turner and Bassem Youssef.

The hearing will also review a January 2015 report by the Government Accounting Office entitled “Whistleblower Protection: Additional Actions Needed to Improve DOJ’s Handling of FBI Retaliation Complaints.”  This report was highly critical of the Justice Department’s handling of FBI whistleblower cases.

For more information about this hearing, visit the Committee’s website.

 

Recent False Claims Act Settlements

Posted in False Claims / Qui Tam

The Department of Justice recently announced the following settlements in False Claims Act cases:

United States Settles False Claims Act Suit Against Good Shepherd Hospice Inc. and Related Entities

Good Shepherd Hospice Inc. agreed to pay $4 million to resolve allegations that Good Shepherd submitted false claims for hospice patients who were not terminally ill. Good Shepherd is a for-profit hospice headquartered in Oklahoma City which provides hospice services in Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas and Texas.

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UBS Whistleblower to Assist French Investigation of Swiss Bank

Posted in Tax Whistleblowers
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UBS whistleblower Bradley Birkenfeld who assisted the U.S. in its successful prosecution of Swiss bank UBS AG for aiding U.S. citizens to commit tax evasion, has been asked to assist France with a similar investigation. Mr. Birkenfeld will travel to Paris to comply with a French subpoena requiring him to testify against UBS AG. French authorities have demanded that Birkenfeld provide testimony and “documentary evidence.”

Mr. Birkenfeld was a key part of the U.S. prosecution of UBS that resulted in the 2009 settlement, which included a deferred prosecution agreement. He had started cooperating with authorities in 2007, by detailing ways that the bank actively helped clients maintain undeclared accounts shielded by Switzerland’s bank secrecy laws. At the time of its settlement, UBS acknowledged helping Americans evade taxes.  Continue Reading

Mandating Internal Disclosures Would Undermine the Effectiveness of Internal Compliance Programs

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.” The purpose of this blog series is to combat the Chamber’s misinformation, and explain why the False Claims Act must be protected.

Fact Number 15: 

In its comprehensive rulemaking, the Securities and Exchange Commission also evaluated the cost-benefit analysis of “encouraging” internal reporting programs but not “mandating” these programs.  The Commission correctly recognized that the competition between internal corporate programs and a well-managed government reward program would strongly encourage companies to institute effective compliance departments.  If internal reports became mandatory, the positive pressure caused by competition would be lost.  Continue Reading

Bipartisan Group of Senators Launches Whistleblower Protection Caucus

Posted in Events, News
Utilizing Whistleblowers in the Fight Against Waste, Fraud and Abuse

Washington, D.C. February 25, 2015. Today, Senator Charles Grassley announced the official formation of a Senate Whistleblower Protection Caucus during a press conference held in the Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing Room.  The founding members of the caucus are Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) (chairman), Ron Wyden (D-OR) (vice-chairman), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Deb Fischer (R-NE) Thom Tillis (R-NC), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Ed Markey (D-MA).

“This is an example of bipartisanship which will make our system work,” said Stephen M. Kohn, Executive Director of the National Whistleblower Center.

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“Beyond the name calling that is pervasive in today’s politics, it is a breath of fresh air to see highly respected senators from both parties recognizing the importance of whistleblowers and the need to protect them from retaliation,” Kohn continued.

Today, the National Whistleblower Center released the report “Utilizing Whistleblowers in the Fight Against Waste, Fraud and Abuse” for use by Members of Congress in considering how to strengthen whistleblower protections. This report sets forth the central role whistleblowers play in protecting our nation from fraud.

“The National Whistleblower Center looks forward to working with the Senate Whistleblower Protection Caucus to ensure all whistleblowers obtain meaningful protection,” Kohn added.

Press Alert: Press Conference Wednesday to Launch Whistleblower Protection Caucus

Posted in Events, News
senator-grassley-whistleblower-caucus

Washington, D.C.  February 24, 2015.  On Wednesday, February 25, at 2:30 p.m. (ET), Senators Chuck Grassley and Ron Wyden will host a press conference to launch the Whistleblower Protection Caucus in Room 226 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building.  Sen. Grassley is the chairman of the caucus and Sen. Wyden is the vice-chairman.

A number of whistleblowers and whistleblower advocates will also be in attendance, including FBI crime lab whistleblower Dr. Frederic Whitehurst and Stephen M. Kohn, executive director of the National Whistleblower Center.

Senator Grassley, the leading champion of whistleblower protection on Capitol Hill, announced the formation of a Senate Whistleblower Protection Caucus on the 25th Anniversary of the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 this past April 10th.  Continue Reading

U.S. Settles FCA Case Against Medical Device Manufacturer for $1.25 Million

Posted in False Claims / Qui Tam
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The Department of Justice announced today that Medical device manufacturer ev3 Inc., formerly known as Fox Hollow Technologies Inc., has agreed to pay the United States $1.25 million to resolve allegations under the False Claims Act that Fox Hollow caused certain hospitals to submit false claims to Medicare for unnecessary inpatient admissions related to minimally-invasive atherectomy procedures.  Continue Reading

Chamber-Endorsed Compliance Programs Can Use Information Obtained by the Whistleblower to Investigate and Fire the Whistleblower

Posted in False Claims / Qui Tam
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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.” The purpose of this blog series is to combat the Chamber’s misinformation, and explain why the False Claims Act must be protected.

Fact Number 14:

The Chamber urged the court in KBR to find that KBR’s practice of not providing explicit warnings to employees was acceptable under federal law.  Under this precedent whistleblowers can be deceived into thinking they were talking to a truly independent compliance department, corporate counsel could in fact keep all their whistleblower concerns secret, and use the information obtained from the whistleblower to undermine the whistleblower.    Continue Reading

Pharmaceutical Company Pays $39 Million to Settle False Claims Act Case

Posted in False Claims / Qui Tam
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The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced on January 9, 2015, that Daiichi Sankyo Inc., a global pharmaceutical company with its U.S. headquarters in New Jersey, agreed to pay the United States and state Medicaid programs $39 million to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act.  The DOJ alleged that Daiichi was paying kickbacks to induce physicians to prescribe Daiichi drugs, including Azor, Benicar, Tribenzor and Welchol.

“The Anti-Kickback Statute prohibits payments intended to influence a physician’s ordering or prescribing decisions,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Joyce R. Branda for the Civil Division.  “The Department of Justice is committed to preserving the independence and objectivity of those decisions, which are cornerstones of our public health programs.”  Continue Reading