Weiser represents individuals who expose activity that has harmed or defrauded state and/or federal governments and taxpayers.
The False Claims Act (“FCA”) is a federal law under which the government prosecutes individuals and companies who defraud government spending programs. This fraud can take many forms, such as healthcare providers overbilling Medicare for services, or contractors overcharging the Department of Defense, for example, for supplies.
Central to the FCA is its qui tam provision, which allows individuals with knowledge of fraud against the government to bring cases on the government’s behalf. People who do so, referred to as “relators” or “whistleblowers,” are entitled to receive between fifteen (15%) and thirty (30%) percent of any recovery the government obtains as a result of the FCA suit.
In the last ten years, the government has awarded over $1.8 billion dollars to whistleblowers that have brought FCA cases.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) and Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”), two government agencies that regulate the U.S. financial market, have whistleblower programs that incentivize individuals to report potential violations of federal securities laws, or “financial fraud.” To be eligible for an award under these programs, a whistleblower must provide the SEC or CFTC with new information about a possible violation of the securities laws that leads to a successful enforcement action with a recovery, including sanctions, exceeding $1 million.
The fraud need not take place in the U.S. or by/on behalf of a U.S.-based company. Under the anti-bribery provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 (“FCPA”), payments to non-U.S. government officials to assist in obtaining or retaining business are unlawful, as are bribes to officials inside the U.S. by foreign individuals and firms. The FCPA also requires companies whose securities are listed on U.S. exchanges to meet U.S. accounting provisions, which, for example, require companies to make and keep books and records that accurately and fairly reflect the transactions of the corporation and devise and maintain an adequate system of internal accounting controls.
The SEC alone has paid over $650 million in whistleblower awards to individuals who have reported financial fraud since 2010.
The U.S. Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) offers rewards for information that leads to the prosecution of companies and individuals who fail to pay taxes owed. The IRS can award whistleblowers up to 30 percent of the tax recovered, penalty and other amounts it collects from successful prosecutions.
In the last ten years, the IRS has paid whistleblowers over $360 million for reporting fraud.