Every organization is required to act in an ethical and lawful manner when conducting business with the public and with the government. Sometimes, a contractor will knowingly deceive the government or others and break an agreement or set of laws meant to establish fair business practices. If the deceit remains within the company, then the government could be cheated out of large sums of money. It is up to a responsible citizen, which could be an employee, to take action as a whistleblower.
The False Claims Act
The government established a law meant to give ordinary American citizens the right to benefit from reporting fraud. The False Claims Act, also referred to as The Whistleblower Law, holds healthcare, government, defense and other contractors accountable for knowingly submitting a false claim to the government. The False Claims Act defines a claim as “a demand for money or property made directly to the Federal Government or to a contractor, grantee or other recipient if the money is to be spent on the government’s behalf and if the Federal Government provides any of the money demanded or if the Federal Government will reimburse the contractor or grantee.”
The Qui Tam provision of the False Claims Act allows a citizen, known as a whistleblower or relator, to take legal action against another individual or company that has submitted false claims to the government. If a qui tam claim is submitted, it remains under seal, meaning that it is private and confidential from both the organization that committed the fraud and the public, for a period of time while the government investigates the claim. The relator in a Qui Tam case may receive a monetary award ranging anywhere from 10 to 30 percent of the money recovered by the government.
A whistleblower is an individual who “blows the whistle” on what he or she views as unlawful, deceptive or unsafe practices occurring usually within an organization. A whistleblower is generally a part of the organization, and has witnessed misconduct that may include a violation of laws or regulations, waste of funds, mismanagement or any other action that may affect public welfare. Whistleblowers may be able to save the government billions of dollars and shed light on harmful business practices.
Types of Fraud Targeted
Due to the large scope of today’s government, there are many types of fraud that occur on a daily basis. A citizen could report on a number of incidents in a wide variety of industries including: price inflation from defense contractors to the government; kickbacks and referrals for physicians from pharmaceutical companies; scientific studies reporting false or exaggerated information; and many others.
Hiring An Attorney
Individuals who believe they have witnessed misconduct against the government should contact a qualified attorney. A Qui Tam attorney can help explain an individual’s rights as a whistleblower and also detail a whistleblower’s protections under federal and local laws. A whistleblower may be entitled to compensation. An experienced attorney can help a whistleblower navigate all aspects of a Qui Tam lawsuit.