More than $30 billion has been recovered in Federal civil actions under the False Claims Act (“FCA”) since the statute which originated in the Civil War era, was amended in 1986 to provide enhanced rewards and protections for qui tam whistleblowers.
In fiscal year 2014, $5.69 billion in fraud against the government was recovered for taxpayers. Most of these cases were brought by qui tam relators, whistleblowers who come forward with their qui tam attorneys to report alleged fraud, and can receive 15-to-25 percent of the recoveries. This was another record year for Federal False Claims Act recoveries, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Without qui tam whistleblowers, billions of dollars of fraud payments or demands for payment hidden from the Government would have gone unnoticed. This stolen money would have remained in the pockets of individuals and entities responsible for the frauds, but courageous whistleblowers stepped up to return defrauded dollars to the U.S. Treasury and, as a result, shared in those recoveries.
In announcing the nearly $6 billion in FY 2014 recoveries Joyce Branda, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Justice Civil Division in Washington stated, “We acknowledge the men and women who have come forward to blow the whistle on those who would commit fraud on our government programs. In strengthening and protecting the False Claims Act, Congress has given us the law enforcement tools that are so essential to guarding the treasury and deterring others from exploiting and misusing taxpayer dollars. We are grateful for their continued support.”
Nearly half of the yearly recovery — $2.3 billion – came from health care fraud cases. The DOJ noted that this was the fifth straight year that the government has recovered more than $2 billion in health care cases. The Department of Justice highlighted two Behn & Wyetzner cases as substantially contributing to the year’s results, the Johnson & Johnson kickback case and the Omnicare kickback case, both involving Medicaid fraud.
For the first time, a substantial proportion of the yearly recovery came from financial fraud cases — $3.1 billion in federal funds recovered in the wake of the housing and mortgage crisis. The Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase and others paid billions to settle allegations of false claims in connection with underwriting, origination and quality control practices concerning residential mortgages the banks sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as well as loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). Some banks also provided funds to assist mortgage holders as part of the settlements.