Washington, D.C. November 8, 2018. Organizers of the OffshoreAlert Conference announced that the leading whistleblower attorney in the United States, Stephen M. Kohn, will speak at next week’s conference in London held at Grange St. Paul’s Hotel, November 12-13. Kohn will give his presentation on Tuesday, November 13 at 1:15 pm. Continue Reading Top US Whistleblower Attorney to Speak at London Conference on Financial Fraud
In February 2018, Congress passed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, requiring the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to include penalties for Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) violations in calculating whistleblower awards. Prior to this statutory change being signed into law, FBAR violations were not included in the calculation of IRS whistleblower awards. Continue Reading GAO Report Finds Excluding FBAR Violations from Award Calculations “Negatively Affected Whistleblowers’ Willingness to Bring Information to IRS”
Whistleblower Law Expert Responds to GAO Report on Combating Wildlife Trafficking
Washington, D.C. May 8, 2018. In a report released today, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued wide-ranging recommendations to increase the effectiveness of paying informants and whistleblowers to report illegal wildlife trafficking. Continue Reading U.S. Government Accountability Office Urges Federal Government to Take Stronger Action to Promote Wildlife Crime Whistleblowers
A delegation from countries including India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, visited the National Whistleblower Center (NWC) today to learn about U.S. whistleblower reward laws and their role in cracking down on fraud both domestically and internationally. The visit was facilitated by the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), an initiative of the U.S. Department of State.
In a recent interview with the AARP, Attorney General Sessions took a strong stance against Medicare fraud and empowering Medicare whistleblowers. Sessions stated that it’s time to consider taking Medicare fraud as seriously as the war on drugs (certainly an issue Attorney General Sessions believes to be of paramount importance).
Medicare fraud is a serious issue. It is estimated that 10% of Medicare funds are lost to fraud and waste, totaling approximately $16.2 billion. This suggests that billions of dollars, which should be directed to funding health care for our seniors, are instead going to fraudsters taking advantage of American taxpayers and the elderly.
Yesterday, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice held a hearing entitled “Oversight of the False Claims Act,” in which corporate lobbyists organized by the Chamber of Commerce worked to advance their agenda to cripple the False Claims Act.
This week the Department of Justice issued a series of press releases announcing settlements in several cases under the False Claims Act. The settlement of these cases, originally brought under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act, resulted in recoveries of over $200 million for the U.S. Taxpayers. The settlements are listed below:
Pharmaceutical company Endo Health Solutions Inc. and its subsidiary Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc. (Endo) have agreed to pay $192.7 million to resolve criminal and civil liability arising from Endo’s marketing of the prescription drug Lidoderm for uses not approved as safe and effective by the Food and Drug Administration.
Medical device manufacturer EndoGastric Solutions Inc. has agreed to pay the government up to $5.25 million to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by misleading health care providers about how to bill federal health care programs for a procedure using a device manufactured by the company and by paying kickbacks.
Vector Planning and Services Inc. (VPSI), an information technology, systems engineering, program management and consulting firm headquartered in Chantilly, Va., has agreed to pay the government $6.5 million to settle False Claims Act allegations that the company inflated claims for payment under several Navy contracts.
MPRI Inc. has agreed to pay $3.2 million to resolve allegations that it submitted false labor charges on a contract to support the Army in Afghanistan.
During the 2013 fiscal year, the Justice Department secured $3.8 billion in settlements and judgments from civil cases under the False Claims Act (FCA). This dollar amount, which is the second largest annual recovery of its type in history, brings total recoveries under the FCA since January 2009 to $ 17 billion – nearly half the total recoveries since the FCA was amended 27 years ago in 1986. The largest annual recovery was in 2012 with nearly $5 billion recovered.
“It has been another banner year for civil fraud recoveries, but more importantly, it has been a great year for the taxpayer and for the millions of Americans, state agencies and organizations that benefit from government programs and contracts,” said Assistant Attorney General Delery. “The $3.8 billion in federal False Claims Act recoveries in fiscal year 2013, plus another $443 million in recoveries for state Medicaid programs, restores scarce taxpayer dollars to federal and state governments. The government’s success in these cases is also a strong deterrent to others who would misuse public funds, which means government programs designed to keep us safer, healthier and economically more prosperous can do so without the corrosive effects of fraud and false claims.”
The Department of Justice announced today that that General Electric Hitachi Nuclear Energy Americas LLC (GE Hitachi) has agreed to pay $2.7 million to resolve allegations under the False Claims Act that it made false statements and claims to the Department of Energy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) concerning an advanced nuclear reactor design.
GE Hitachi allegedly made false statements to the NRC and Department of Energy about a component of the advanced nuclear Economic Simplified Boiling-Water Reactor (ESBWR) known as the steam dryer. A steam dryer removes liquid water droplets from steam produced by the nuclear reaction that generates electricity in boiling-water type reactors. The NRC requires that applicants for nuclear reactor design certification, such as GE Hitachi, demonstrate that vibrations caused by the steam dryer will not result in damage to a nuclear plant. The government alleged that GE Hitachi concealed known flaws in its steam dryer analysis and falsely represented that it had properly analyzed the steam dryer in accordance with applicable standards and had verified the accuracy of its modeling using reliable data.
Between 2007 and 2012, GE Hitachi received funding from the Department of Energy to cover up to half of the cost of developing, engineering and obtaining design certification for the advanced nuclear ESBWR. The NRC, which regulates the civilian use of nuclear power in the U.S., is responsible for determining whether to approve GE Hitachi’s application for the reactor design certification. The NRC is still reviewing the application and has not reached a final decision on the certification.
“Transparency and honesty are absolutely critical when dealing with issues relating to the design of a nuclear reactor,” said Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Division Stuart F. Delery. “The Department of Justice will protect federal funds and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s crucial mandate of ensuring public safety.”
The allegations against GE Hitachi were brought to light by whistleblower LeRay Dandy, a former employee. His share of the settlement has not yet been determined.
Proposed false claims act legislation is one of the first bills to advance in the West Virginia House Judiciary Committee on the first day of the legislative session. The legislation establishes qui tam proceedings, legal action brought by private citizens against the state or companies doing business with the state believed to have committed fraud or violated the law.
“It incentivizes reporting internally from anyone working inside the government or anyone working inside private companies who see their companies overcharging the government,” Tim Miley, Speaker of the WV House of Delegates said on MetroNews Talkline last week.
The legislation will assist by identifying possible Medicaid fraud in the state, which is one of the main purposes of the bill. Some legislators have cautioned that the claims could overwhelm the Office of the Attorney General. “Anybody who is complaining about the bill for those reasons is doing so because they want to hide some of the government fraud," Delegate Stephen Skinner, D-Jefferson told The Journal.
Skinner pointed to controversial deals such as "Routergate" to show the necessity for a state False Claims Act. In 2013, an audit revealed that state officials wasted millions of federal stimulus dollars when they purchased more than 1,000 routers. The $24 million was supposed to be used to increase Internet access in the state.
The legislation is under attack by West Virginia’s corporate lobby. The chemical spill in Charleston that contaminated the drinking water for 300,000 residents hasn’t slowed down the corporate lobby’s drive to kill off this bill which is needed to protect the residents of West Virginia. The President of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce, Steve Roberts, is characterizing the proposed law as a scheme for trial lawyers to get rich.
Roberts told Talkline that the proposal was nothing more than “a sue and settle scheme developed by the trial bar to try to expand the opportunity for lawsuits in West Virginia.”
Patrick Burns of Taxpayers Against Fraud took issue with Roberts’ claims.
“Do lobbyists for corporate crooks oppose paying fines and restitution?” Burns told Corporate Crime Reporter. “Of course. The fox is always opposed to anyone guarding the hen house.”
“The good news is if West Virginia wants to see a model for success, they only need look next door.”
“Virginia passed a state False Claims Act in 2002, and since then that state’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit has returned an average of $228 million per year.”
“Virginia has also recovered millions of stolen dollars for its state pension fund, and is set to recover millions more for defective water pipe installed by municipalities.”
The federal government’s first False Claims Act was signed into law in 1778. Close to 30 states now have state False Claims Acts, including Texas, Maryland, New York, California, Michigan, Illinois, and Florida.