A whistleblower is a person in possession of pertinent information regarding unethical and unlawful practices performed against the government. By exposing such practices through legal process under the False Claims Act, the whistleblower is protected by law from financial or employment retaliation by the accused party.What is the Federal False Claims Act?
Originating in the Civil War era of 1863, the Federal False Claims Act allows for legal action against alleged fraudulent activity affecting government programs. More than half of the country’s states have enacted their own False Claims Act laws, in addition to the federal act. Two important legal elements related to the False Claims Act are:
- Qui tam action – This legal action enables non-government entities to disclose whistleblower information on behalf of the government and themselves. These non-government entities may be individuals, associations, or businesses.
- Dodd-Frank Act – This law, known as the “Wall Street Tip-Off Law,” protects corporate insiders and stock market professionals who chose to become whistleblowers.
Although a whistleblower may proceed with individual litigation, the government will intervene if deemed necessary. The whistleblower typically continues to assist as the government takes over prosecution. If the government declines involvement, the whistleblower may continue to pursue litigation as an individual citizen.What are the benefits of becoming a whistleblower?
Contributing to protecting the rights of the community, whether on a smaller local scale or larger nationwide scale, takes courage and conviction. Rewards for such action include the whistleblower’s eligibility for 10% to 25% of government recovered funds. If the case is denied legal procedure by the government, the whistleblower may choose to pursue litigation independently. In this case, he or she may recover an even greater amount.Can whistleblowers be anonymous?
While a specific case is under investigation, confidentiality is paramount. Filed under seal, False Claims Act cases are dependent upon sensitive information which must remain confidential for a certain length of time. Government programs allow whistleblowers to remain anonymous. If the details of the case become public for any reason and the whistleblower encounters retaliation from the employer, the whistleblower has the right to sue for damages.What are the four categories of whistleblower laws?
- Tax fraud, investigated by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
- Fraud against state or federal government programs
- Securities fraud, investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
- Violations of the Commodities Exchange Act, investigated by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC)
- Tax fraud examples include tax evasion, varying acts of accounting fraud, dishonest foreign tax credits, and misrepresentation of income.
- Fraud against government programs can include unlawful price inflation on government contracts, failure to comply with government contracts, or supplying the government with defective parts.
- Securities fraud examples include market or stock manipulation, front running, insider trading, and embezzlement by stockholders.
- Healthcare and pharmaceutical fraud includes dishonest billing, compensation to doctors of hospitals in exchange for buying or promoting specific drugs, and recommendations by physicians of drugs or medical devices for off-label use.
Revealing fraudulent activities, whether in a medical, pharmaceutical, securities, or financial setting, is a brave choice that takes immense courage. At Altman & Altman, LLP, we believe whistleblowers play a crucial role in exposing illegal activity against the government, on both a state and federal level. Pursuing prosecution against fraud is a complex matter that requires a focused and air-tight legal strategy. The attorneys at Altman & Altman, LLP are committed to seeking justice and protecting the whistleblower’s position and anonymity as we proceed. If you have unique information regarding fraudulent activity against the government, contact us for a confidential consultation.