During the fiscal year that ended September 30, the government paid out $435 million to the individuals who exposed fraud and false claims by filing a qui tam complaint, “often at great risk to their careers,” the DOJ said Thursday.
The qui tam (or whistleblower) provisions of the False Claims Act allow individuals to file lawsuits alleging false claims on behalf of the government. If the government prevails in the action, the whistleblower, known as a relator, receives up to 30 percent of the recovery. The DOJ can join the suit or not. Either way, if the government prevails, the relator is entitled to an award.
The number of qui tam suits filed in FY2014 exceeded 700 for the second year in a row.
From January 2009 to the end of fiscal year 2014, the government paid whistleblower awards of $2.47 billion.
The Justice Department during FY2014 recovered a record $5.69 billion in settlements and judgments from civil cases involving fraud and false claims against the government.
It was the first year when DOJ recoveries topped $5 billion in cases under the False Claims Act. Total recoveries from January 2009 through the end of FY2014 now stand at $22.75 billion.
Of the $5.69 billion the government recovered in fiscal year 2014, nearly $3 billion related to lawsuits filed under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act.
Congress amended the False Claims Act 28 years ago to strengthen the law and increase incentives for whistleblowers to file suit.
“We acknowledge the men and women who have come forward to blow the whistle on those who would commit fraud on our government programs,” said Joyce Branda of the DOJ’s civil division.
“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,” she said.
Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.