Many qui tam
whistleblowers participated, to one degree or another, in the very
fraud that they later report to the government. Usually
this is because they either didn't know the law, or they needed to
keep their job and felt they would be fired if they did not "go
This puts the whistleblower, also
known as a "Qui Tam Relator,"
in a very awkward situation - on the one hand, the whistleblower
wants to do the right thing and report the conduct, but on the
other hand, does not want to become a target of a government
Approaching Government Prosecutors and Whistleblower
In the vast majority of cases,
government prosecutors do not focus on the conduct of the
whistleblower. Rather, their investigative efforts are
directed toward the planners and architects of the fraud against
the government, and particularly on those who benefitted
financially. That said, many Relators are professionals who
have invested many years in their chosen field, and wish to
minimize or rule out entirely the risk that they will be prosecuted
by one or more government regulators. We understand from
experience that whistleblowers have concerns in their role as a
whistleblower so we offer free and confidential initial
consultations. Click here to learn more about our approach to
whistleblower cases and our whistleblower
Seeking Whistleblower Immunity from the Prosecution
Prosecutors are often reluctant to
offer whistleblower immunity and protection without first have the
opportunity to interview the Relator. This makes sense - they
want to determine first whether the person was an architect of the
fraud (in which case they almost certainly will not grant
immunity). Second, they want to make a judgment whether the
person is credible, has evidence corroborating the fraud, and will
make a good witness should the case proceed to litigation.
The trouble with this approach -
identifying the whistleblower and consenting to a government-run
interview - is that the client could make incriminating statements
and become a target of the government investigation, which is the
very thing the Relator is trying to avoid.
In limited circumstances, prosecutors
may be willing to offer immunity to a Relator if the Relator's
lawyers prepare a detailed written "proffer," i.e., a summary of
what the whistleblower would say
Such situations are difficult to
judge, and should only be handled by experienced lawyers who know
how to navigate these troubled waters.
The False Claims Act and Being Granted Whistleblower
Whether or not a whistleblower is
granted immunity, there are other issues to consider when deciding
whether to bring a Qui
Tam lawsuit under the False Claims Act. First, the
Act states that if "the action was brought by a person who planned
and initiated the violation . . . the court may . . . reduce the
share of the proceeds of the action which the person otherwise
would have received." 31 U.S.C.
3730(d)(3). Moreover, if the person bringing the action is
convicted of criminal conduct arising from his or her role in the
fraud, that person "shall not receive any share of the proceeds of
the action." Id.
For further reading:
What Whistleblower Clients Can Expect From Our Lawyers
What Makes A Good Whistleblower/Qui Tam Case?
is the Federal False Claims Act?
Federal And State
Contact Us To Learn More
If you have discovered evidence of government fraud,
contact an experienced False Claims Act attorney before blowing the
whistle. You may be entitled to a substantial reward and the legal
protections afforded to whistleblowers under state and federal
laws. The attorneys of Berger & Montague are nationally
recognized experts in Whistleblower/Qui Tam actions with over a
decade of experience pursuing these complex fraud cases. For more
information or to schedule your confidential consultation, use the
form on this page or call us at 1-800-424-6690.
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