Who is a whistleblower?
Anyone with knowledge that an individual or entity is defrauding the government can be a whisteblower. Typically, whistleblowers are employees or contractors who learn of fraud or other wrongdoing through their employment. However, anyone can be a whistleblower, including competitors. Whistleblowers can receive financial rewards for reporting fraud committed against the U.S. government.
What is a qui tam lawsuit?
A qui tam refers to a lawsuit brought on behalf of the government or the public. Private parties, called relators, prosecute qui tam actions alongside the government, or on their own. The relators’ attorneys prepare the complaint and may even prosecute the lawsuit through trial.
Steps in Submitting a Whistleblower Claim
The process for resolving a whistleblower’s claim differs depending on the type of fraud involved and the governing statute.
However, the process typically tracks the following steps:
Contact an experienced and knowledgeable whistleblower attorney to evaluate your potential case. Whistleblower law is extremely complex, and the law generally rewards only the first whistleblower. In general, a whistleblower loses eligibility for a financial award or bounty if the whistleblower is not the first person to report the fraud.
With the information and supporting evidence provided by the whistleblower, the whistleblower’s attorneys prepare the appropriate documentation to formally notify the government of the fraud. Frequently, this type of submission requires the assistance of consultants and experts, including accountants and analysts. The type of notification that the whistleblower’s attorneys will prepare depends upon the type of fraud involved.
After receiving a whistleblower’s claim, the government investigates the whistleblower’s allegations. During this phase, the case remains “under seal” and all information obtained by the government is kept confidential. The whistleblower’s attorneys continue to provide assistance to the government, which can increase the monetary award to the whistleblower.