The U.S. Department of Justice announced on April 13 that Adobe Inc. agreed to a settlement stemming from allegations of violating the False Claims Act. The California based multinational computer software company allegedly made payments that violated the Anti-Kickback Act “in return for influence over the sale of Adobe software to the federal government.” Adobe agreed to pay the government $3 million to resolve the allegations.
The claims against Adobe, the maker of products such as Photoshop, were brought by three former managers at Adobe, whistleblowers Alan Dowless, Barbara Evans, and Carrie Whalen. The whistleblowers filed under the qui tam provision of the False Claims Act. Qui tam claims enable private citizens to file lawsuits on behalf of the government if they know of an individual or company defrauding the government. Qui tam whistleblowers are eligible to receive between 15 and 30% of the government’s recovery. In this case, the whistleblowers will collectively receive $555,000.
U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves for the District of Columbia said that “Whistleblowers – like those in this case – are to be commended for trying to return the playing field to level.” Graves added that “A fair market relies heavily on an even playing field,” and “When a company, vendor, or business owner tips the scales to their advantage, it undermines the system. When government dollars are involved, it means taxpayers ultimately bear the burden.”
The government’s allegations centered around payments that Adobe made through its Solution Partner program for favorable treatment in government contracts from 2011 to 2020. The government contended that the payments were “improper” and resulted in false claims being submitted to federal agencies. Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division, said of the settlement that “those who do business with the government are prohibited from paying kickbacks, which can result in unnecessary purchases and increase costs to taxpayers…We will continue to use all appropriate tools to safeguard the integrity of the federal procurement process.”
The General Service Administration Office of the Inspector General (GSA-OIG) coordinated on the case with federal investigative units and the Justice Department’s Civil Division, Commercial Litigation Branch, Fraud Section. Inspector General Carol Ochoa of the GSA said that the GSA-OIG “will continue working to protect taxpayer dollars and the integrity of federal contracting.” Ochoa applauded the efforts, saying “I appreciate the hard work of the special agents, auditors, and attorneys on this case.”
Adobe Inc. Agrees to Pay $3 Million to Settle Kickback Allegations Involving Federal Software Sales