The False Claims Act has become one of the most potent weapons used by whistleblowers and federal prosecutors in recovering tax dollars that were misspent or defrauded, recovering more than $35 billion over the last three decades.
Federal prosecutors and whistleblowers used the False Claims Act to help recover over the last year another $4.9 billion in taxpayer money that had been lost to fraud, bringing the total recoveries under the landmark law to more than $35 billion since the mid-1980s.
Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, announced the latest statistics on Tuesday, saying the False Claims Act was one of the most potent weapons in protecting taxpayers.
“The federal False Claims Act is an unsung hero in the fight to root out fraud against the federal treasury. It’s proven to be the most powerful tool in recovering taxpayer dollars. The law has recouped tens of billions of taxpayers’ dollars that would otherwise have been lost, and it’s deterred even more,” Grassley said.
Of the most recent $4.9 billion in recoveries, about $3.3 billion came from qui tam amendments to the law that Grassley championed back in 1986 to give whistleblowers greater ability to press the government and the courts to recover wasted or defrauded monies.
“Whistleblowers are the key to the recoveries. They put their careers forever at risk to expose wrongdoing. Our 1986 qui tam amendments have empowered these people to come forward and risk their livelihoods to do what is right," he said.
The 1986 amendments sought by Grassley and Rep. Howard Berman, D-Calif., strengthened the Civil War-era False Claims Act which was originally signed into law by Abraham Lincoln. The 1986 Grassley-Berman qui tam amendments empowered individual citizens to file suit on behalf of the United States against those who fraudulently claim federal funds, including Medicare, Medicaid, contract payments, disaster assistance and other benefits, subsidies, grants and loans.
According to the Justice Department, since the 1986 Grassley-Berman qui tam amendments were signed into law, whistleblowers have filed nearly 8,500 actions under the qui tam provisions, including a peak of 647 this past year.
The 1986 Qui Tam amendments to the False Claims Act empowered individual citizens to file suit on behalf of the United States against those who fraudulently claim federal funds, including Medicare, Medicaid, contract payments, disaster assistance and other benefits, subsidies, grants and loans.