Last year was a record year for whistleblower cases. The U.S. Department of Justice handed out $635 million in award monies. These sums don’t include the millions given by states, the IRS and the SEC to whistleblowers. In False Claims Act cases alone, the Justice Department recovered $5.69 billion for taxpayers and that sum doesn’t include the billions more brought in through FIRREA, the Financial Institutions Reform Recovery and Enforcement Act. All told, over the last 12 months Uncle Same recovered over $20 billion.
With results like this, it comes as no surprise that the Justice Department loves whistleblowers.
Last September, the Justice Department said it was stepping up the efforts of its criminal division in whistleblower cases. We expect to see more joint criminal and civil enforcement efforts. Although criminal prosecutions can sometimes slow whistleblower cases down, ultimately the Justice Department has tried to be fair to whistleblowers and insure that adequate awards are paid.
One defense firm (Jackson Kelly) that defends corporations in False Claims Act whistleblower lawsuits wrote, “government contractors must establish and implement meaningful compliance programs. Compliance plans are particularly important in discouraging qui tam actions.”
That firm offered a few other tips – “be very careful about who you hire to perform functions such as billing; closely supervise contractors and employees to ensure they are aware of and are following government regulations; create an environment that rewards the reporting of wrongdoing in-house;[and] immediately respond once an offense is detected…”
Those common sense suggestions are accurate. Unfortunately, real world practice is much different.
Many corporations react by hiding problems and retaliating against whistleblowers. We read one survey this week that found that 28% of professionals in the financial industry were asked to sign confidentiality agreements that prevent employees from reporting misconduct to authorities. These policies are not only illegal, they send the wrong message to whistleblowers – report wrongdoing and you will lose your job.
It will likely take a few more years before many companies learn that it is more costly to cover up problems or cut corners. As long as the Justice Department and courts aggressively protect whistleblowers, the fight against corporate greed and arrogance can be won.
The time has never been better to become a whistleblower. If you have information about fraud involving a government program, a federally insured bank, unpaid or unreported taxes, or violations of U.S. securities law, you may be entitled to a cash award. Awards in excess of $1 million are the norm.
For more information, contact attorney Brian Mahany at or by telephone at (414) 704-6731 (direct). All inquiries are kept strictly confidential. To date we have helped our clients collect in excess of $100 million in whistleblower awards.
MahanyLaw – America’s Whistleblower Lawyers