This June, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley and Ranking Member Patrick Leahy introduced legislation to extend whistleblower protection for employees who provide information to the Department of Justice related to criminal antitrust violations.
Whistleblower laws form the foundation of the False Claims Act and are are crucial because they provide protection and incentives for qui tam whistleblowers (also called relators) to bring information to the government. Under federal and state laws, defendants who violate the False Claims Act are liable for triple damages (plus penalties) to the government.
According to a recent study published by Andrew C. Hall, Gerald S. Martin, Nathan Y. Sharp and Jaron H. Wilde, when qui tam whistleblowers participate in financial misrepresentation enforcement actions, the wrongdoers face significantly increased penalties and prison time.
The study’s authors analyzed over a thousand qui tam financial fraud enforcement actions between 1978 and 2012 and determined 145 cases (almost 13% of the total) involved whistleblower information. Due to whistleblowers’ assistance, the government obtained an additional $20.75 to $21.27 billion in judgments, the study estimates. Prison sentences for guilty corporate executives and managers also increased by roughly two years when qui tam whistleblowers were linked with the enforcement action. Read Moreabout Higher Penalties, Sentences Imposed in Qui Tam Whistleblower Cases
The SEC Division of Enforcement recently released its fiscal year 2016 budget request, providing a detailed account of the Division’s activities during FY 2014 as well as an estimated budget for upcoming years.
Of particular note, the Division set a record by obtaining judgments worth more than $4.16 billion in disgorgement and penalties. The Office of the Whistleblower received approximately 3,600 leads from whistleblowers (more tips than ever before), made the largest number of awards, and announced its largest single award ever to an individual ($30 million). During the same time period, the Division’s total costs came in around $455 million. Thus, for every dollar spent, the Division returned more than nine times that amount.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) recently announced that it has collected a record $5.69 billion in settlements involving fraud and false claims against the government for fiscal year 2014. The largest recoveries were in mortgage fraud and healthcare fraud, where the government obtained $3.1 billion and $2.3 billion respectively. Recoveries in qui tam whistleblower cases (actions brought by a whistleblower, known as a relator) totaled nearly $3 billion.
“It has been an extraordinary year for civil fraud recoveries, but the true significance is not in breaking records or making history; it is in the billions of dollars restored to the federal treasury,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Joyce Branda.