Archive for the ‘Whistleblower Protection’ Category
Wednesday, May 30th, 2012
A former home appraiser for Countrywide (“Countrywide”) Financial will receive a $14.5 million whistleblower reward in connection with a qui tam lawsuit that alleged Countrywide fraudulently inflated appraisals on government insured loans.
The Countrywide qui tam suit, filed by Mr. Kyle Lagow in 2009, was one of five whistleblower complaints that were settled as part of the $25 billion national mortgage settlement that state and federal officials reached with Bank of America and four other lenders this year. Mr. Lagow’s suit was settled for $75 million.
All five qui tam complaints were brought under the whistleblower provisions of the federal False Claims Act, which is a longstanding federal statute that authorizes a private citizen with knowledge of fraud being perpetrated on the federal government to bring a lawsuit on the government’s behalf. If the whistleblower’s suit is successful, the whistleblower may be entitled to up to 30% of the government’s monetary recovery. The False Claims Act also provides for certain protections for employees who are subjected to retaliation for reporting fraud.
Kenney & McCafferty lawyers are experienced in the area of mortgage fraud. If you have knowledge of mortgage fraud and would like to discuss the possibility of a whistleblower award, please contact our attorneys today. Kenney & McCafferty will consult with you about your case, including your ability to remain anonymous in filing for an award, without obligation. All communications with Kenney & McCafferty attorneys regarding your case are confidential and protected by the attorney-client privilege.
Tags: mortgage whistleblower, mortgage whistleblower award
Posted in Bank Fraud, bank whistleblower, corporate fraud, False Claims Act, government fraud, mortgage fraud, Recent News, retaliation, Whistleblower Protection | Comments Off
DID YOU SIGN AN EMPLOYMENT RELEASE WAIVING YOUR WHISTLEBLOWER CLAIM? EVEN IF YOU SIGNED A RELEASE, YOU MAY NOT HAVE LEGALLY RELEASED YOUR CLAIM.
Wednesday, May 30th, 2012
In order to provide an employee with a severance or layoff payment, employers now commonly require their employees to sign a Release which releases or waives all possible claims against their employer for wrongful termination, age discrimination or any other type of lawsuit that employees commonly file against employers. These releases are typically very broad and make clear that employees are releasing all claims during the entire period of employment that has anything to do with their employment.
Employers that do business with the federal and state governments or are involved in Wall Street-type finance are also now sometimes including references to whistleblower claims or even in some cases specific references to the False Claims Act (a federal law pertaining to government contractor fraud) or the Dodd-Frank law (a federal law pertaining to Wall Street-type fraud) in these employment releases.
For employees losing their jobs and concerned that they may not be able to find other employment quickly, it is natural and understandable for that employee to go ahead and sign the Release to receive their severance pay, even if they believe that they might have had a good whistleblower claim.
If you did sign such a Release and believe that you do have a good and current whistleblower claim, you may not be out of luck. Under specific circumstances that are too detailed to get into here, you may be able to pursue a whistleblower claim even if you have already signed an employment Release and even if you have already received your severance pay!
If you believe you have a good whistleblower claim, but are concerned that you may have recently signed an employment Release (or are about to sign such a Release) waiving your claim, call the attorneys at Kenney & McCafferty Law Firm and find out whether you can still pursue a whistleblower claim. The attorneys at Kenney & McCafferty are experienced in dealing with this specific issue and will help you figure out whether you can still pursue your whistleblower claim.
Thursday, May 26th, 2011
Since the Commission’s 3-2 vote adopting the final rules yesterday, the SEC has made the document available on its website at ttp://www.sec.gov/news/press/2011/2011-116.htm
Kenney & McCafferty is carefully reviewing the document and determing how the new rules can benefit those reporting securities violations. For a free consultation about a potential claim of your own, please call K&M today.
Tags: abuse, corporate fraud, False Claims Act, fraud, government fraud, health care fraud, pharmaceutical fraud, retaliate, retaliation, Tax Fraud, tax whistleblower, waste, whistle blower, whistle blowing, whistleblower, whistleblowing, wrongful termination
Posted in corporate fraud, Corporate Tax Fraud, False Claims Act, government fraud, Money Laundering Tax Fraud, SEC Whistleblower Program, Uncategorized, Whistleblower Protection | Comments Off
Thursday, May 19th, 2011
Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the majority opinion holding that Freedom of Information Act request responses constitute “reports,” relators who rely on FOIA request responses can fall prey to the public disclosure bar of the False Claims Act. The Court issued the opinion in Schindler Elevator Corp v. United States ex rel. Kirk on May 16, 2011. Justice Ginsburg filed the dissenting opinion, in which Justices Breyer and Sotomayor joined.
Relator Daniel Kirk, a military veteran, worked for Schindler Elevator from 1978 to 2003. He resigned in September 2003 saying that the company had forced him out. Kirk filed his False Claims action in 2005. In an amended complaint in 2007, Kirk alleged that Schindler has improperly submitted for payment hundreds of false claims to the government because Schindler had certified it was in compliance with VEVRAA reporting requirements. Kirk alleged the certification of compliance was false.
Relator Kirk sought verification that his allegations were correct by asking his wife to ask for Schindler’s reporting information through a FOIA request. Mrs. Kirk made three requests, and DOL responded with information that showed the reports were not filed for several years in question.
Schindler asked the Court to dismiss the case on the ground that the verification information Mrs. Kirk obtained through the FOIA requests was a “public disclosure.” Under the pre-existing public disclosure rules, whistleblower claims could be dismissed if the relator was found to have “based” the allegations on specified types of publically available information. In Schindler, J. Thomas said that a FOIA response = a report = a public disclosure. He left open the question of whether or not Mr. Kirk based his allegations on those FOIA responses.
False Claims actions can be complicated, and the statute requires a whistleblower to be represented by an attorney. For a free consultation on a potential government fraud claim, please call Kenney & McCafferty, P.C. today.
Tags: abuse, clarence thomas, corporate fraud, corruption, False claims, False Claims Act, FCA, FERA, fraud, fraud reward, government fraud, public disclosure, Qui Tam, reward, supreme court whistleblower, tax whistleblower, whistle blower, whistle blowing, whistleblower appeals, whistleblower reward, whistleblowing, wrongful termination
Posted in corporate fraud, False Claims Act, government fraud, Uncategorized, Whistleblower Protection | Comments Off
Wednesday, May 18th, 2011
Linda Stengle of Kenney & McCafferty, P.C. presented testimony before the IRS on May 11, 2011, on its proposed definition of “collected proceeds.” The definition, if approved, would form the basis of calculating whistleblower awards.
The IRS had four people on a panel to hear the comments. They were Tom Kane, Senior Legal Counsel; Stephen Whitlock, Director of the Whistleblower Office; Alexandra Minkovich, Attorney-Advisor; and Kirsten Witter, Chief of the Service’s Ethics and General Government Law Branch. The panel asked questions of a few presenters, including Stengle. Tom Kane stated that NOLs should be considered to be ordinary deductions and were not relevant to an award calculation. Kane also said there should be no 2 year waiting period imposed in cases involving a closing agreement and that further guidance would be issued with regard to whether whistleblowers can obtain a portion of criminal fines.
Stengle pointed out irregularities in the public comment process ordinarily required when the IRS changes a major regulation. Specifically, the IRS issued its Whistleblower Manual in June 2010 without public comment and narrowed the definition of “collected proceeds.” Senator Grassley, the author of the statute mandating IRS whistleblower awards, criticized the Manual and said that several sections worked to deter whistleblowers from reporting large scale tax underpayment. Stengle echoed Grassley’s request that the manual be held in abeyance while substantive sections undergo public comment.
Four other attorneys presented testimony on the topic. Among other comments, Richard Rubin observed that the proposed rule addressed the inclusion of specific categories of recovery into the definition, but no actual definition for “collected proceeds” exists anywhere in the regulations.
All those who presented stated that the proposed definition for collected proceeds needed to be broadened. The panel members gave no indication of when the IRS plans to publish the final version of the definition.
Tags: corporate fraud, government fraud, IRS, IRS reward, IRS whistleblower program, tax evasion, Tax Fraud, tax underpayment, tax whistleblower, whistleblower award, whistleblower reward
Posted in Abusive Tax Shelters, Corporate Tax Fraud, Employment Tax Fraud, Estate Tax Fraud, IRS Whistleblower Office, Money Laundering Tax Fraud, Offshore Accouts Fraud, Tax Fraud, Uncategorized, Whistleblower Protection | Comments Off
Wednesday, May 4th, 2011
A long time corporate investigator recently shared his concern that whistleblowers look to corporate investigators and attorneys for help and protection when they blow the whistle. Nothing could be further from the truth. “There’s nothing I can do,” said the investigator. “I’ve seen it over and over again. They are going to get their heads cut off.”
The investigator said he knew that whistleblowers, no matter the merit of their report, would be skillfully and systematically terminated with a substantial paper trail to support management’s actions.
“They look to me for help,” he said. “I work for the company. I tell them that, but they don’t seem to understand.”
Neither did CEO Ian Norris of Morgan Crucible Company. Morgan Crucible came under government investigation for an international price fixing conspiracy. CEO Norris began a campaign to obstruct a grand jury investigation, and he shared details of his campaign with Morgan Crucible’s attorney. When the government learned of Norris’s obstruction, it charged Norris with corruptly persuading, and attempting and conspiring to corruptly persuade, others with intent to influence their testimony in grand jury proceedings. Morgan Crucible waived its attorney client privilege and granted permission for corporate counsel to testify. Norris fought the testimony, saying the corporate attorney also represented Norris in his individual capacity and was prohibited from testifying.
The Third Circuit disagreed, but found that communications about scope of representation were ambiguous. Ultimately, the court ruled that Morgan Crucible, alone, held the right to waive attorney client privilege, and the attorney testified.
The attorney testified that Norris, in front of counsel, disseminated a false cover story and scripts about the price fixing and encouraged everyone, including counsel, to relay the false information to investigators. The attorney said he did not know the information was false.
Attorneys and investigators should provide employees with explicit explanations about their role in investigating allegations of fraud within a corporation. They often do not, for a variety of reasons. Bottom line – employees need to take steps to protect themselves when they report corporate misconduct internally.
For a free consult about whether you have a potential government fraud claim, call K&M today.
Tags: abuse, attorney general, corporate fraud, corruption, False claims, False Claims Act, FCA, FERA, fraud, fraud reward, government fraud, health care fraud, IRS whistleblower, IRS whistleblower program, medicare fraud, pharmaceutical fraud, Qui Tam, retaliate, retaliation, SEC whistleblower, Tax cheat, tax evasion, Tax Fraud, tax whistleblower, whistle blowing, whistleblower award, whistleblowing, wrongful termination
Posted in Corporate Tax Fraud, Employment Tax Fraud, False Claims Act, Money Laundering Tax Fraud, Offshore Accouts Fraud, retaliation, SEC Whistleblower Program, Tax Fraud, Uncategorized, Whistleblower Protection | Comments Off
Thursday, April 28th, 2011
The SEC has postponed adoption of rules for its whistleblower program. According to the Dodd-Frank Act, final regulations for the whistleblower program were to be adopted by the SEC no later than April 21, 2011. Earlier this week, the SEC announced on its website that it is planning to adopt new rules some time between May and end of July. SEC spokesperson John Nester did not provide any specifics about the delay, commenting only that the SEC was crafting all the new rules for Dodd-Frank with an emphasis on “getting it right.”
The financial industry needs an effective fast-track incentive program for whistleblowers. The Dodd-Frank program augments the SEC’s 40 year old insider trading reward program that never realized its potential as a decentralized fraud enforcement mechanism. The SEC, under the old insider trading program, only paid out awards to whistleblowers four times. SEC watchers generally discount the insider trading program and are skeptical about the SEC’s interest in working with whistleblowers in general.
The new Dodd-Frank whistleblower program has generated considerable interest among would be whistleblowers and large companies. Frustrated employees and fraud fighters are delighted to have another program that incentivizes whistleblowers; large companies criticize the program because it encourages whistleblowers to report fraud directly to the government, bypassing internal corporate compliance procedures.
Whistleblowers could file SEC claims for rewards under the Dodd-Frank Act as of last July but will be expected to comply with the new rules once the new rules are adopted. Kenney & McCafferty, P.C. is happy to assist you in assessing your potential SEC whistleblower claim. Call K&M for a free consultation today
Tags: bank fraud award, banking whistleblower, banking whistleblower award, corporate fraud, corporate fraud whistleblower, corporate whistleblower award, finance industry fraud, market fraud, market fraud whistleblower, market whistleblower award, mortgage fraud, mortgage fraud whistleblower, mortgage whistleblower award, Sarbanes Oxley award, Sarbanes Oxley violation, Sarbanes Oxley whistleblower, Sarbanes Oxley whistleblower award, SEC whistleblower, SEC whistleblower award, SEC Whistleblower Program, SEC whistleblower reward, securities violations, securities violations reward, securities whistleblower, securities whistleblower award, SOX retaliation, SOX whistleblower, SOX whistleblower award, whistleblower
Posted in retaliation, SEC Whistleblower Program, Uncategorized, Whistleblower Protection | Comments Off
Tuesday, April 26th, 2011
In Friedland v Commissioner (T.C. Memo 2011-90), the United States Tax Court dismissed the IRS whistleblower’s appeal because it was not filed within thirty days of the date of the “no answer letter” sent to Friedland by the IRS Whistleblower Office. The Tax Court reiterated its ruling in Cooper – the “no answer letter” constitutes a final determination of a whistleblower claim.
Murray Friedland, a CPA, reported two corporations for tax violations in September 2009. On November 13, 2009, the IRS Whistleblower Office sent Friedland a letter explaining that it had reviewed and evaluated the claim and then said that prevailing law prevented it from explaining why a claim would be denied. Friedland found the letter confusing. He sent additional information about his claim to the Whistleblower Office, and he called for an explanation. The WO responded with three letters, one memorializing a conversation in which Friedland was told that he could write to the US Court of Federal Claims. The letters also confirmed that the WO would not change its determination about Friedland’s claim.
Friedland followed the suggestion of the WO and appealed to the Court of Federal Claims. The Court of Federal Claims dismissed the appeal on May 26, 2010, because the CFC does not have jurisdiction to hear IRS whistleblower appeals. On June 18, 2010, Friedland filed an appeal with the Tax Court.
Friedland filed his appeal 217 days after the date of the first letter, the “no answer letter.” As decided in previous Tax Court rulings, the “no answer letter” is notice of a final determination that the IRS is denying the claim. Whistleblowers have thirty days from the date of the no answer letter to file their appeals. Because Friedland filed 217 days after the date of the no answer letter, the Tax Court ruled that it had no jurisdiction over the claim because it was filed too late.
With regard to Friedland’s obvious confusion about the appeal process, the Tax Court said, “We recognize that petitioner may have relied on the erroneous advice of the Whistleblower Office in filing his initial appeal with the Claims Court. . . We sympathize with the petitioner. We cannot expand our jurisdiction, however, even where the Commissioner provided bad advice.”
Kenney & McCafferty, P.C., has successfully represented IRS whistleblowers, even before the passage of the 2006 whistleblower statute. For knowledgeable and trustworthy representation, contact K&M for a free assessment today.
Tags: Abusive Tax Shelters, Corporate Tax Fraud, Employment Tax Fraud, Estate Tax Fraud, fraud reward, IRS whistle blower, IRS whistleblower, offshore tax fraud, Tax cheat, tax claims, tax court, tax evasion, Tax Fraud, tax petition, tax underpayment, tax whistle blower, tax whistleblower, tax whistleblower petition, whistleblower appeals, whistleblower award, whistleblower reward
Posted in Abusive Tax Shelters, Corporate Tax Fraud, Employment Tax Fraud, Estate Tax Fraud, IRS Whistleblower Office, Money Laundering Tax Fraud, Offshore Accouts Fraud, retaliation, Tax Fraud, Uncategorized, Whistleblower Protection | Comments Off
Monday, March 28th, 2011
The ACLU lost its most recent attempt to strike down the seal provisions of the False Claims Act. The ACLU had lost its case in the Eastern District of Virginia and then appealed to the Fourth Circuit. The Appellate Court affirmed the district court’s decision to dismiss the ACLU’s case.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit in 2009, making a facial constitutional challenge to the long standing seal provisions of the FCA. The False Claims Act allows the qui tam plaintiff/relator to file the civil complaint under seal, which means the complaint is not served on the defendant until the seal is lifted by judicial order. The seal allows the government time to investigate the complaint without alerting defendants to the specific allegations. Depending on where the case is filed, the government frequently asks the judge for extensions of a sealed complaint to allow it more time to conduct its investigation. At some point, the complaint becomes unsealed.
The seal makes filing False Claims actions more attractive to whistleblowers because the whistleblowers enjoy anonymity while the government is conducting its investigation of the defendants. If the complaint is under seal, the defendant does not know that a whistleblower is involved and many times, does not know that it is being investigated. Whistleblowers who are current employees of a defendant that is committing government fraud are able to assist the government in its recovery of fraudulently obtained government funds without worrying unduly about retaliation for reporting the illegal conduct.
Oddly, the ACLU sought to strike down the seal provisions on the grounds that they acted against the whistleblower’s right to free speech, that the seal violated the public’s right of access to judicial proceedings, and that the seal impermissibly violated the doctrine of separation of powers. The ACLU was not able to point to a single whistleblower that agreed with the ACLU’s position, however, and admitted that it did not have much familiarity with the workings of a qui tam action.
The Fourth Circuit pointed out that seals are often ultimately lifted in qui tam cases and that the United States has a compelling interest in protecting the integrity of ongoing fraud investigations. Kenney & McCafferty applauds the Courts’ rulings in this matter and looks forward to continuing working with qui tam relators in sealed government fraud investigations.
Tags: abuse, corruption, False claims, False Claims Act, FCA, fca seal, FERA, fraud reward, government fraud, government fraud recovery, Qui Tam, relator reward, whistle blowing, whistleblower, whistleblower reward
Posted in Corporate Tax Fraud, False Claims Act, Recent News, retaliation, Uncategorized, Whistleblower Protection | Comments Off