One company gave dementia patients drugs they didn’t need. A company working in the Middle East billed the Air Force for hours no one worked. Opioid makers treated loyal doctors to kickbacks in the form of “lavish meals and entertainment.”

Those are just a few of misdeeds catalogued in the Department of Justice annual report on False Claim Act cases. Whistleblowers helped the government collect $3 billion in fines and recoveries in fiscal year 2019, up from $2.8 billion in 2018.

Medicare and Medicaid were big targets for fraudsters this year, as they have been in years past, according to the annual report from the Department of Justice. The list also includes military contractors, universities and a fish oil producer. Read the full list here.

From the report:

Of the $3 billion in settlements and judgments reported by the government in fiscal year 2019, over $2.1 billion arose from lawsuits filed under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act.  During the same period, the government paid out $265 million to the individuals who exposed fraud and false claims by filing these actions.

“Whistleblowers continue to play a critical role identifying new and evolving fraud schemes that might otherwise remain undetected,” said Assistant Attorney General Hunt.  “Taxpayers have benefitted greatly from these individuals who are often required to make substantial sacrifices to bring these schemes to light.”


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The men on the EPA’s wanted list didn’t kill anyone, but they could make a lot of people sick. They are accused of dumping mercury contaminated soil, smuggling ozone depleting freon into the US or covering up illegal cruise ship discharges.

But a story in The American Prospect magazine suggests that many states don’t have lawyers or detectives prepared to go after environmental criminals. The piece is based on an internal EPA document and was originally published for subscribers to The Capitol Forum.

Twenty states have zero dedicated criminal enforcement attorneys or investigators, according to a document maintained by the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. The Capitol Forum obtained the document through an open records request.

To effectively monitor, enforce, and deter criminal environmental conduct, states should have dedicated staff members and resources, according to interviews with former EPA staff who collaborated with state-level environmental programs during their careers.

The document was a list of “full-time employee[s] whose job is investigating and/or prosecuting pollution control crime.” Only eight states had both an inspector and an attorney. The EPA told The Capital Forum that the agency does not have minimum law enforcement staffing requirements for state  programs. Sometimes they work with state police or an attorney general’s office on environmental crimes, according to the EPA’s comment. State regulators described similar partnerships.


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Bloomberg Law reports on an upcoming legal battle over the denial of Department of Justice request to dismiss a qui tam suit. Over the past two years, federal district courts have granted 25 DOJ motions to dismiss such suits, compared to six in the previous two years, the story notes.

Companies that bill the federal government for services are eager in 2020 to see what courts say about Justice Department decisions to dismiss whistleblower cases it finds to be meritless or a burden on government resources.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit is considering how much deference the federal courts should give to those dismissal decisions in a specific case over whether an Illinois federal judge erred in rejecting the DOJ’s move to dismiss a suit alleging a drug kickback scheme by CVS, Omnicare, and others.

More on the Granston memo, which triggered the dismissals:


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Just before the holiday, the American Bar Association published a statement on its “Legal Fact Check” webpage concluding that the whistleblower’s identity is NOT Protected by the law.

Stephen M. Kohn

The lawyer for the White House whistleblower has asked that the person’s identity be kept anonymous for the protection

It may be the end of the year for the rest of the world, but the fiscal year ended in October. As we wait for the Department of Justice to crunch its numbers for the year end report on False Claims Act collections, we look back on this year’s reports from other federal programs.

The Inspector General (IG) of the Intelligence Community, Michael K. Atkinson, called whistleblowers the agency’s  “first responders” in his semi-annual report to Congress. In April, the office issued a report entitled “Whistleblowing Works.”

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission awarded more than $75 million in FY 2019 to five whistleblowers  “who voluntarily provided original information or analyses that led to successful enforcement actions.” This total includes the program’s largest-ever award of approximately $30 million.

SEC

The Securities and Exchange Commission reported that it awarded approximately $60 million in awards to eight people  “whose information and cooperation assisted the Commission in bringing successful enforcement actions.” This included a $37 million award to a whistleblower who supplied information that led to a settlement against JPMorgan Chase & Co. over claims the company was not transparent with investors about conflicts of interest.

The most recent report from the IRS came out in February and reported that whistleblowers helped the agency collect more than $1.4 billion in criminal fines, and civil forfeitures in fiscal year 2018. Since 2007, the program has made more than $800 million in whistleblower awards based on the collection of $5 billion.


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Today we remember Dennis Brutus, a poet and international anti-apartheid activist who died ten years ago. While in exile in the U.S., he became a founding director of the National Whistleblower Center. Brutus understood the power of whistleblowing and pushed to expand the center’s efforts internationally.

He led the effort to get apartheid South Africa barred from the Olympics. His activism landed him in the same Robbin Island prison as Nelson Mandela and then, on to exile. In the U.S., he taught, wrote poetry and promoted the divestiture movement. When President Ronald Regan ordered him deported, NWC founding board members Michael and Steven Kohn successfully defended him. He returned to South Africa in 1991 and continued pushing for justice there and worldwide.

Patrick Bond a professor of political economy at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa offers this tribute to Brutus.

The memory of Dennis Brutus will remain everywhere there is struggle against injustice. Uniquely courageous, consistent and principled, Brutus bridged the global and local, politics and culture, class and race, the old and the young, the red and green. He was an emblem of solidarity with all those peoples oppressed and environments wrecked by the power of capital and state elites. But in his role as a world-class poet, Brutus also taught us well, that social justice advocates can have both bread and roses.


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The New Yorker declares it the year of the whistleblower, and we offer some of our popular posts of 2019.

From The New Yorker:

This year, as one scandal after another played out in the news, it was easy to become overwhelmed. Amid all the noise, there’s been a common theme in many of the reports—the increased profile and significance of whistle-blowers. It’s hard to think of another recent period when the act of whistle-blowing has had such a consequential impact on our politics and culture.

From the Whistleblower Protection Blog:

Ukraine whistleblower
  • Can the Ukraine call whistleblower remain anonymous? And, who is obligated to protect his or her anonymity?
  • The journalist and the whistleblower. Every journalist who has ever worked with a whistleblower knows these are fraught relationships.
  • Remember when the whistleblower complaint was seen as “hearsay”? Turns out secondhand whistleblower “reports are 47.7% more likely than firsthand reports to be substantiated by management, which suggests that management views many secondhand reports as credible.“
Climate Corruption Campaign
  • NWC announces new program; Only company insiders would know of climate change-related risks concealed from shareholders, the IRS and the public. The campaign will help these insiders secure confidential whistleblower status.
  • More here. Can whistleblowers save the Amazon rainforest?


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Two pieces of note for whistleblowers and their supporters from Government Executive.

One reported on a survey that posed this question, which was answered by nearly 700 federal workers.

Please complete the following sentence: “The attacks on the whistleblower by President Trump and various Congressional Republicans have made it ________ likely that I will report

  • A round up of recent news begins with a link to a new piece in The Hill by the founders of the NWC. They ask “(N)ow that the impeachment case is clearly headed to a Senate trial, what will become of the whistleblower?”
  • Time magazine declared public servants the “Guardians of the Year.” Whistleblowers expect blowback. But paranoia about a “deep state” conspiracy has brought much wrath upon those professionals. Previously they were seen, at worst, as bureaucratic or boring. So, a tribute is in order.

There are 363,000 federal workers in the greater Washington, D.C., area. In the first week of September, history turned in the office of one of them. The intelligence analyst who blew the whistle on President Donald Trump had just gotten off the phone with the Inspector General’s office.

The piece quotes NWC chair Stephen Kohn on how the intelligence community statutes were designed to protect both classified information and the whistleblower.

“That’s what’s so significant about the Ukrainian case,” says whistle-blower attorney Stephen Kohn. “Congress specifically said, If you want to be protected under this law, you raise your concerns this way.”


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