Whistleblower statutes usually allow a whistleblower to report useful info to the government or file a qui tam lawsuit in court. Qui tam suggests that the lawsuit is registered on the government’s behalf--usually to regain government funds which were fraudulently obtained by the firm the whistleblower works for (such as a defense contractor overbilling the government for gear ). Usually, if the government recovers money due to the whistleblower’therefore advice, the whistleblower receives a share of the recovery.
Fraud Beneath the California False Claims Act
California has its own whistleblower statute which is similar to the federal one, the Federal False Claims Act. The California False Claims Act (CFCA) makes it illegal to defraud the public by knowingly:
Submitting a false or fraudulent claim for payment (such as an invoice) to the government of the country of California or to the government of any of California’s political subdivisions (such as a county or town )
Misappropriating public property
Deceptively preventing an obligation to pay the State of California (like deceptively averting to pay a fine) or failing to return funds to the State of California (such as an accidental overpayment received from the government)
The CFCA claims that the fraud has to be committed “knowingly” -- what does that mean?
The legal definition of “knowingly” includes 3 various Sorts of “knowledge:”
1. Acting purposely
2. Dealing with reckless disregard of the fact 3. Dealing with willful ignorance of the fact
Acting purposefully would include a government contractor who falsely certified that the job was done when he knew it was only 80 percent finished. Acting with reckless disregard of willful ignorance is frequently referred to as “burying your head in the sand. ”
Courts have held that if a organization ’s own records show that the info they submitted to the government was false, the provider recklessly ignored or was willfully ignorant of the truth, since the corporation needs to have known what its own records stated. Penalties Under the California False Claims Act
If an individual or firm violates the CFCA, then they need to pay up to 3 times the sum (treble damages) of cash they defrauded or misappropriated from the government. In addition to that, the person or company violating the CFCA might need to pay up to $11,000 for each violation.