Whistleblower Lawyer Reports – (JusticeNewsFlash) On the 25th anniversary of the 1986 False Claims Act Amendments last year, the Department of Justice joined in acknowledging the False Claims Act as "the single most important tool that American taxpayers have to recover funds when false claims are made to the federal government, including health care fraud, mortgage fraud, and procurement fraud." (http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2012/January/12-ag-142.html) As we celebrate another milestone for the False Claims Act this week - the 150th anniversary of its passage - it is important to recognize not just the importance of the Act itself. It is imperative that we also recognize the catalyst it has become in developing new laws to help in the fight on fraud.
Since 1986, states have drawn heavily on the False Claims Act, adopting their own versions to combat fraud against state and local governments. A total of thirty three states now have state False Claims Act laws of one kind or another. (Some follow the federal model while others do not include a qui tam provision. Still others have adopted legislation to focus on fraud on Medicaid, the state program to provide health care to poor and disabled citizens.)
Congress has also built on its own success and used the concepts of the False Claims Act to draft new laws to incentivize those with knowledge of improper and unlawful conduct to come forward. These laws have led to whistleblower programs at the Internal Revenue Service, the Securities Exchange Commission and the Commodities Futures Trading Commission. The SEC whistleblower program had more than 3,000 tips and gave out its first award last year. Significantly, the SEC awarded the whistleblower the highest percentage available under the law, 30%, for the information which led to the SEC enforcement action. The IRS program has been slower starting, but the massive tax fraud involving UBS which led to a whopping $104 million whistleblower award last year shows the incredible potential for this program too. When combined with the more than $30 billion that the False Claims Act has returned to the Treasury since 1987, it's clear that whistleblowing works.
So, as we mark the Sesquicentennial of the law originally designed to go after war profiteers which is now aiding in efforts to go after those who commit healthcare fraud, tax fraud and securities fraud, it seems appropriate to highlight the Department of Defense's current view on whistleblowers as set forth on the DOD's webpage. It states, "whistleblowing is not a ‘nice to have’ function; it is essential to the national security and defense mission of the Federal government." Happy Birthday, False Claims Act.
Kathleen R. Scanlan
Attorney Kathleen R. Scanlan is a featured columnist for JusticeNewsFlash.com based in San Francisco, California, reporting on issues relating to the False Claims Act and whistleblowers.
Attorney Kathleen R. Scanlan has been practicing law in California for more than 14 years and is currently with the whistleblowers lawyers at Keller Grover. Over the course of her career she has worked almost exclusively on the plaintiffs' side of civil litigation matters on cases arising from real estate fraud, healthcare fraud, fraud on consumers, fraud on the government as well as antitrust and RICO violations and breaches of fiduciary duties.
In representing and advocating for whistleblowers and fighting fraud on the government, Kathleen draws on educational experiences on both U.S. coasts and her life-long interest in the great American experiment that is our constitutional democracy. She earned her B.A. in American Studies from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut and her J.D. from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.
The False Claims Act is a powerful federal law to redress fraud on the government. It allows whistleblowers to file suit on behalf of the government to recover amounts improperly paid from the Treasury and to receive a reward as a percentage of any successful recovery the government may make. In cases brought under the False Claims Act, Kathleen has the privilege of representing a whistleblower who is stepping forward to expose a wrongdoing that is costing every American taxpayer. A lot of people go to law school hoping they'll have the chance to represent courageous clients like this and to make a difference in how our country operates. She's actually doing it every day.