Whistleblowers helped the government collect $3 billion in fines and recoveries in fiscal year 2019, up from $2.8 billion in 2018.

Medicare and Medicaid were big targets for fraudsters this year, as they have been in years past, according to the annual report from the Department of Justice. The list also includes military contractors, universities and a fish oil producer. Read the full list here.
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A Greek shipping company and its chief engineer were indicted Tuesday for witness tampering and falsifying records to hide the illegal discharge of waste oil into the sea.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced the six-count indictment against Chartworld Shipping Corporation, Nederland Shipping Corporation, and Chief Engineer Vasileios Mazarakis. A federal grand jury in Wilmington, Delaware acted after hearing evidence that the company failed to keep accurate pollution control records and falsified records. The charges also include obstruction of justice and witness tampering, according to the DOJ.

The case was brought under the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS), a U.S. law that implements the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, commonly known as MARPOL. The law has a whistleblower provision and investigators say they use it routinely when witnesses come forward.


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IRS-Whistleblower-Building-Washington-DCToday, the U.S. Department of Justice officially dismissed their appeal of case Whistleblower 21276-13W and 21277-13W v. CIR, Case Nos. 17-1119 and 1120 (D.C. Cir.), marking a big win for IRS whistleblowers. Below is a statement from the whistleblowers’ attorneys.

The law firms of Zerbe, Miller, Fingeret, Frank & Jadav, PC (ZMF); Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto (KKC) and Robert Amsel, Esq. are pleased to announce today a key victory for tax whistleblowers with the filing of a joint stipulation for dismissal of the government’s appeal in the cases of Whistleblower 21276-13W and 21277-13W v. CIR, Case Nos. 17-1119 and 1120 (D.C. Cir.). The case was scheduled for oral argument on April 9, 2018 in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.  It had pitted the U.S. Department of Justice and IRS against two whistleblowers whose information has led to $54.131 million in criminal penalties and civil forfeitures awarded against a major Swiss bank.  The DOJ and IRS were arguing that the tax whistleblower law did not apply to criminal tax cases that resulted in payments of fines and civil forfeitures.


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DOJ withdraws appeal in criminal tax whistleblower case; whistleblowers to obtain US$12.9 million award

WASHINGTON, D.C. | MARCH 29, 2018—The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit today will dismiss an appeal filed by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) challenging the right of whistleblowers to obtain a financial reward based on disclosing information that results in the criminal prosecution of tax evaders. The case concerned a major international financial institution that was sanctioned for illegally assisting U.S. citizens in evading taxes. The IRS had initially denied an award to the two whistleblowers.  The whistleblowers challenged the denial in Tax Court and prevailed.  However, the DOJ and IRS challenged this finding in the Court of Appeals. Today, at the request of DOJ, that appeal will be dismissed, and the two whistleblowers will become the first persons to obtain an IRS whistleblower reward based on a criminal tax prosecution.


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Attorney General Sessions Condemns Companies That Sell Defective Equipment to First Responders

The U.S. Department of Justice issued a press release late today announcing a settlement in a 13-year long False Claims Act case. Toyobo Co. Ltd. of Japan and its American subsidiary, Toyobo U.S.A. Inc., f/k/a Toyobo America Inc. (collectively, Toyobo), have agreed to pay $66 million to resolve claims under the False Claims Act that they sold defective Zylon fiber used in bullet proof vests that the United States purchased for federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies. 
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In a memo dated January 29, 2018, Attorney General Jeff Sessions instructed Department of Justice (DOJ) heads to not communicate with “senators, representatives, congressional committees, or congressional staff” without first consulting with the DOJ Office of Legislative Affairs (OLA).

Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), a long-time advocate for whistleblower rights, has expressed his concern regarding the legality of the Attorney Sessions’ memo. In his response letter, Grassley writes that the memo “does not appear to comply with existing law.” In particular, it infringes on the rights of DOJ employees to “make protected disclosures directly to Congress.”


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A January 10th memo released by the Department of Justice states that attorneys should consider dismissing “meritless” and “parasitic” whistleblower cases filed under the False Claims Act (FCA). The FCA allows citizens to sue on the government’s behalf, should they report evidence of waste, fraud, or abuse of taxpayer dollars. Whistleblowers (called “relators” in this context), who file qui tam lawsuits under the FCA, are eligible to receive monetary rewards from the funds recovered.

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As a young attorney, Jeffrey Wertkin joined the Department of Justice where he investigated and litigated False Claims Act cases filed by whistleblowers. After six years fighting fraud for the government, working side by side with whistleblowers, Wertkin made the jump to the prestigious corporate law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld.

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