DOJ RAMPS UP CRIMINAL, YES CRIMINAL, INVESTIGATIONS ON QUI TAM SUITS
The Department of Justice has recently implemented a procedure to ensure that all new qui tam complaints are reviewed contemporaneously by the Civil Division and the Criminal Division as soon as cases are filed. If you’re a government contractor, this new policy needs your attention now. While civil penalties have been the primary enforcement mechanism for whistle blower, or other False Claims Act, cases, the fact that experienced prosecutors in DOJ’s Fraud Section are now working on a parallel track to conduct criminal investigations takes contract compliance to a whole new level. It’s important to keep several things in mind and have a full discussion, with counsel, to determine what they mean for you.
1. Criminal actions, like civil, can be brought against both companies and individuals,
2. Although the standard for criminal conduct is higher than for civil violations, never underestimate ambitious career prosecutors trying to get ahead,
3. The most frequent source of FCA suits are from whistleblowers – either disgruntled employees or competitors. Do not pass go, or collect $200 before your firm discusses this new program with your contract counsel.