December 15, 2016. On Wednesday, December 14th, The U.S. Justice Department announced that it recovered over $4.7 billion from False Claims Act (FCA) cases in 2016. Of those recoveries, $2.9 billion were recovered through cases initiated by whistleblowers. The Justice Department paid more than $519 million in whistleblower awards over the course of the year. This represents the continuation of a long trend of successful cooperation between whistleblowers and the Justice Department, and demonstrates the enormous success an effective whistleblower program can generate.
According to Senator Chuck Grassley, who authored reforms to the False Claims Act to permit whistleblowers to file suits on behalf of the government, since 1986 whistleblowers have helped the government recover $53 billion. “For those who doubt the value of whistleblowers and the False Claims Act, when it comes to fraud against the government, I’d say at least $53 billion, and counting,” Grassley said.
Among the FCA recoveries were $19.3 billion in recoveries from healthcare fraud and $7 billion from housing and mortgage fraud cases—many of which concerned misconduct contributing to the 2008 housing and mortgage crisis. The largest single healthcare fraud case this year—in which Wyeth and Pfizer Inc. paid $784.6 million for illegally pricing drugs for Medicaid—was initiated by two whistleblowers.
Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer pointed to the whistleblower reward provisions of the False Claims Act as one of the best assets in the Justice Department’s anti-fraud arsenal: “The qui tam provisions provide a valuable incentive to industry insiders who are uniquely positioned to expose fraud and false claims to come forward despite the risk to their careers,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Mizer. “This takes courage, for which they are justly rewarded under the Act,” Mizer added.
This success of this year’s False Claims Act recoveries exemplify how whistleblowers are the most effective tool in the fight against fraud and corruption.
The National Whistleblower Center (NWC) filed several amici curiae (friend of the court) briefs this year to support whistleblowers and advocate for their protection. In particular, NWC briefs have addressed compelling legal issues to prevent attempts to weaken the False Claims Act (FCA) before the United States Supreme Court in cases like State Farm Fire and Casualty Company v. U.S. ex rel. Rigsby and Universal Health Services v. U.S. ex rel. Escobar.
- Department of Justice Press Release, “Justice Department Recovers Over $4.7 Billion From False Claims Act Cases in Fiscal Year 2016”