UK Contemplates Qui Tam Provision

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It has recently been reported that the British government is contemplating the creation of a reward system, with qui tam provisions similar to the False Claims Act, to encourage whistleblowers to come forward with necessary information to root out government fraud and other white-collar crime.

The U.K. Home Office, acting in concert with other British agencies, are examining the qui tam provisions contained in the False Claims Act, as well as the IRS and SEC Whistleblower programs. As of now, the British government does not financially reward individuals for revealing original information used by the government to thwart fraud. Due to the recognized potential and actual hardships associated with the courageous act of blowing the whistle, as a seasoned False Claims Act attorney, I feel the addition of a qui tam provision will greatly assist our allies across the pond in its fight against government fraud.

As reported in the New York Times here, Britain’s government will “consider the case for incentivizing whistleblowing, including the provision of financial incentives, to support whistleblowing in cases of fraud, bribery and corruption,” the Home Office said as part of a document announcing the new National Crime Agency (“NCA”) in Britain. The NCA is Britain’s closest equivalent to the FBI. Although discussions concerning a qui tam provision have commenced, there is no deadline regarding a decision on the same.

Since 1986, the Department of Justice’s civil fraud section has recovered more than $20 billion in settlements and judgments, including whistleblower actions.  It is well-recognized that the qui tam provisions of the FCA provide strong incentive for citizens to assist the government in preventing and deterring fraud.

In 2011, the SEC established its own whistleblower program pursuant to the Dodd-Frank Act, the financial industry reform bill passed in response to the financial crisis. Under the SEC’s program, whistleblowers who supply original information that results in sanctions exceeding $1 million can receive rewards representing up to 30 percent of those sanctions. The SEC on numerous occasions has praised the legislatures’ inclusive of a qui tam provision which, according to Mary Jo White, SEC Chairwoman, “has had a big impact on our investigations by providing us with high quality, meaningful tips.”

I am hopeful that the British government will recognize and appreciate the importance of our qui tam provisions and establish its own incentives to reward courageous whistleblowers for their vital information.

Young Law Group is a nationwide leader in whistleblower representation and has successfully represented numerous clients in some of the nation’s largest qui tam cases for over a decade.  For a free confidential consultation, please call Eric L. Young, Esquire at (800) 590-4116 or complete the online form here.

 

 

 

United States Joins Whistleblower Lawsuit Against Novartis Pharmaceuticals

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Philadelphia, Pa, April 26, 2013 PRWeb, Young Law Group (www.young-lawgroup.com; e-mail: eyoung@young-lawgroup.com)

The United States Department of Justice has announced that it is intervening in a qui tam whistleblower suit under the False Claims Act accusing Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation of fraudulently billing Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE, and other federal and state-funded healthcare programs by Novartis’ Cardiovascular Diseases Division through a wide array of kickback schemes involving drugs including Lotrel, Valturna, and Starlix.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara announced the intervention in court documents that were unsealed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York on April 26, 2013.

“Novartis’ pervasive business practices to fraudulently market numerous drugs including Lotrel, Valturna, Starlix, Tekturna, Diovan, and Exforge, cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars” said Eric L. Young, Esquire, Young Law Group, who, with James E. Miller, Esquire, of Shepherd, Finkelman, Miller, and Shah, LLP, and John Minnino, Esquire, of Minnino Law Offices, is representing the whistleblower, former Novartis sales representative, Oswald Bilotta.

“Novartis’ payment of kickbacks to increase market share is yet another example of abuse in the pharmaceutical industry that contributes to skyrocketing medical costs,” said James E. Miller, Esquire, of Shepherd, Finkelman, Miller, and Shah, LLP.

The whistleblower complaint alleges that Novartis committed massive taxpayer fraud by marketing drugs Lotrel, Valturna, Starlix, Tekturna, Diovan and Exforge through a widespread “pay to play” scheme whereby the company paid off doctors who prescribed its drugs.  As detailed in the government’s intervention Complaint, Novartis’ Cardiovascular Division engaged in a number of schemes whereby the company paid kickbacks to doctors to ensure increased prescriptions at the federal government’s expense.

None of this is new for Novartis. In September 2010, the company announced that it would pay approximately $422 million in criminal and civil fines and penalties to resolve claims that it had paid kickbacks to prescribers of Trileptal, Diovan, Zelnorm, Sandostatin, Tekturna, and Exforge, in addition to claims that the company had promoted some of these drugs for unapproved uses. Nonetheless, Novartis continued paying kickbacks and promoting drugs for unapproved uses, the complaint alleges.

After retaining SFMS, Minnino, and YLG, the whistleblower filed a qui tam lawsuit in federal district court in Manhattan on January 5, 2011. The qui tam case was kept under seal, meaning that it was not known to the public, while the government investigated the allegations.  “Thanks to courageous people like Mr. Bilotta, perpetrators of fraud are being held to account for fraudulent sales and promotional activities that artificially increases the burden on taxpayers . . . we are confident based upon the evidence presented by Mr. Bilotta and the results of the ensuing government investigation that Novartis will be held to account for its wrongs”, said Mr. Young, a veteran qui tam litigator.

Case citation: U.S. ex rel. Oswald Bilotta v. Novartis Pharmaceuticals, Corp., S.D.N.Y. 11-CV-00071-PGG.

Young Law Group, specializes in representing whistleblowers (“relators”) throughout the United States and internationally in qui tam lawsuits brought under the False Claims Act. The False Claims Act allows private individuals to sue companies that are defrauding the federal government and to recover funds on the government’s behalf. Whistleblowers may be entitled to 15 percent to 30 percent of the civil recoveries that result from the qui tam lawsuit.

SFMS represents clients, including business entities, consumers, individual and institutional investors, fiduciaries, state and other governmental entities, and whistleblowers, in complex litigation and other matters with offices in California, Connecticut, Florida, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

John Mininno, Esq. has offices in Collingswood, N.J. with practice areas including False Claims Act litigation.

Contact: Young Law Group
123 South Broad Street
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19109
Phone 215-367-5151
www.young-lawgroup.com
Eric Young, Young Law Group, 215-367-5151, eyoung@young-lawgroup.com
 
 

Pharmaceutical Fraud – Do Your Part to Help Fight

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Do Your Part to Help Fight Pharmaceutical Fraud

Unfortunately, too many pharmaceutical companies place the pursuit of profits above compliance with the law and the well-being of the innocent patients, who place their trust in their products.  In order to protect their bottom line, some pharmaceutical companies perpetrate countless fraudulent schemes every year and collect billions in misappropriated tax dollars through Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements, while the U.S. taxpayers are left holding the bag.  Fortunately, you can help to fight back against pharmaceutical fraud.

Have you, or one of your colleagues, witnessed or heard of questionable behavior on the job with regard to the sales and marketing of pharmaceutical drugs?  Have you been instructed to engage in conduct you know to be improper, or to ignore the improper conduct of others?  Numerous pharmaceutical companies have made a fortune engaging in illegal practices.  These include, marketing drugs for off-label uses, paying kick-backs and bribes to health-care providers, manipulating and misrepresenting data related to the efficacy of products and potential adverse effects, and a host of other improper activity.  Pharmaceutical fraud is prevalent within the industry’s marketing and research and development departments.

The United States is serious about combating fraud.  The False Claims Act is a valuable tool, which allows knowledgeable whistleblowers to assist in holding fraudsters accountable, by filing qui tam lawsuits on behalf of the government.  Recognizing the immeasurable benefit of whistleblowers in the fight against fraud, the False Claims Act is structured in a manner to actively encourage knowledgeable individuals to come forward.  Whistleblowers are protected from all forms of retaliation and receive a substantial monetary award for their assistance, up to thirty-percent of the government’s total recovery.

Young Law Group is a nationwide leader in whistleblower representation and has successfully represented numerous clients in some of the nation’s largest qui tam cases for over a decade.  For a free confidential consultation, please call Eric L. Young, Esquire at (800) 590-4116 or complete the online form here.

 

Do You Have a Qui Tam Whistleblower Case?

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How Do I Know If I Have A Qui Tam Whistleblower Case?

The term “whistleblower” is very broad and can have multiple meanings. Any time someone reports a wrong, arguably they could be considered a whistleblower.

Only if the wrongdoing involves fraud against the government does a whistleblower have the right under federal and state false claims acts to file a qui tam case  on behalf of the government and collect a reward in the event of a recovery.

The following questions can help you determine if you have a qui tam whistleblower claim.  If you answer “Yes” to any of these questions, you may have a case.

Did this unjust conduct cause a governmental entity to lose money?

To bring a claim under federal or state False Claims Acts you have to have government money involved. In other words, there needs to be fraud on the taxpayers. For example, if you discover that your employer is defrauding its customers, you can certainly become a whistleblower and report that misconduct, but you cannot file a qui tam whistleblower case because there is no fraud on the government. The exception is, of course, when the government happens to be one of the customers.

Sometimes the fraud against the government can be very subtle. For example, maybe the company took a grant as part of a government program and it might be in violation of a contract it signed as a condition for getting the government grant.

Is your information based on something you saw or heard firsthand?

Generally speaking, you cannot base your qui tam case on something you learned from publicly available information. You must be an original source for the information – you must have first-hand and exclusive knowledge of the misconduct.

For example, there may be extensive discussion on web sites on how a pharmaceutical company is marketing one of its drugs off-label, which is arguing against the law. You cannot file a qui tam suit based on the information that is freely available on those web sites. If, however, you have specific first-hand knowledge of this off-label marketing, you might have a case.

Do you have any documents to back up your report?

The government is limited in terms of the time and resources they have to devote to qui tam false claims act cases, so they work on what they believe to be the best cases, with the most potential upside. Part of that consideration is the evidence a whistleblower has to support the case.

The reality is that if you don’t have any documentary evidence, this puts you at a severe disadvantage in getting the government’s attention. You want to be in a position where you’re giving the government a really good head start on the case.

Evidence could be, for example, emails or memos where people are talking about the fraud, or sometimes people record conversations when it’s legal to do so.

Does the government not yet know of this unjust conduct?

Generally speaking, you can’t make a case based on information that is already known. This can be a tricky question. Because qui tam cases are filed under seal, sometimes it is hard to tell whether there are other cases already on file. The simple truth is that in many cases there is more than one whistleblower, and the first whistleblower to file is the one that is entitled to any reward that might be paid.

An experienced whistleblower lawyer can help you work through these challenges.

Has anyone done anything to try to cover up this fraud?

Here, we get back to the question of whether you have evidence to support your claims. An experienced whistleblower attorney will counsel a client about how to maintain evidence that the client already has, or to gather additional evidence without being in violation of any laws that protect a defendant’s confidentiality or trade secrets.

If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, you might have a qui tam whistleblower case. Please call us for a no-commitment, no-cost discussion. Qui tam whistleblower lawsuits can be complex, and you need an experienced qui tam attorney to help you get started on the right foot.

Young Law Group, P.C., Attorneys-at-Law, represents whistleblowers nationwide. For a free confidential consultation, please call Eric L. Young, Esquire at 1-800-590-4116 or email to eyoung@young-lawgroup.com.

New York State Amends False Claims Act

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New York is leading the way at preventing tax fraud at the state level becoming the first state to creates a reward for whistleblowers. The amendment to New York’s False Claims Act will provide for an award to the whistleblower so long as the defrauding taxpayer earns more than $1 million in annual net income and defrauds the state of more than $350,000.

The whistleblower may earn up to 30 percent if he brings the case alone and up to 25 percent if the government decides to intervene. These percentages are based upon a number of factors including the amount of the whistleblower’s assistance.

As reported on The Post Standard, “The tax department guesses that billions of tax dollars go unpaid every year. In recent years, starting with Gov. Eliot Spitzer, the state has poured money into the department’s enforcement unit for staff, sting operations and sophisticated data collection systems to bust tax cheats. Spitzer appointed Comiskey to lead the effort and he set a record in his first year, bringing in $3 billion — $1 billion more than the year before. The effort continued under Gov. David Paterson. This year’s state budget relied on $221 million in extra tax fraud collections to help close the budget gap.

“New York state’s been exceptionally aggressive in the last few years during the budget crisis at collecting any source of tax revenue they can find, fairly or unfairly,” said Tim Lynn, a lawyer at Green & Seifter, an expert in business tax credits. “This is another weapon in their arsenal to cure their budget problems.”

Lynn said he suspects cases could come in the area of sales taxes or fuel and highway use taxes — the kinds of taxes where employees are aware of the amount of money that should have been paid. It is less likely there will be cases involving income taxes, which are confidential and handled by bookkeepers, he said.

The state first passed a whistle-blower law, called the False Claims Act, in 2007. It is modeled after the federal law. Until now, the law has mostly been used in Medicaid fraud cases. The old state law, like the federal law, specifically exempted tax fraud.

In three years, Medicaid fraud cases brought under the False Claims Act have recovered about $200 million for the state.

By 2014, the state estimates it will recover about $20 million a year from tax fraud.

Schneiderman likes to call it “the false claims act on steroids.”

McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt represents whistleblowers nationwide. For a free confidential consultation, please call Eric L. Young, Esquire at (215) 367-5151 to speak to one of our whistleblower attorneys.

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