The term “whistleblower” is defined as a citizen who reports illegal activity against the government, or any other fraudulent act within a company, state agency or organization. A federal law called the False Claims Act (“FCA”), also known as the “Lincoln Act”, allows whistleblowers to file suit, known as a qui tam suit, in the name of all taxpayers against such companies. A California state level law, called the California False Claims Act, also encourages state employees and other whistleblowers to report fraud by bringing lawsuits against companies engaged in illegal activity.
The consequences of losing an FCA charge, whether federal or state, can cripple your business and reputation. Not only are you charged with the fraud, but also the cost of a judgment against you can be substantial. Representation by an experienced and diligent San Francisco white-collar criminal lawyer is crucial in winning these cases.
Two features of the federal FCA make it a particularly potent weapon. One, it imposes liability of treble damages plus possibly devastating civil penalties. Two, the FCA allows whistleblowers to initiate an action in the name of the United States in return for 15-30 percent of any recovery by the government.
Similarly, on the state level, if the whistleblower’s accusations are found to have merit by the government, and the company is charged, the whistleblower will receive statutory rewards for their courage in combating fraud against the government. With such dire consequences for those charged and the exceptional rewards for the whistleblowers, it is in your best interest to immediately contact your San Francisco white-collar criminal lawyer as soon as possible.
After you become aware of an FCA allegation, you should quickly retain legal counsel. The government seeks evidence and launches investigations in your cost accounting and business information. Having a San Francisco white-collar criminal lawyer on your side will be an invaluable tool that will help you through this long, excruciating process.