The Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced that the penalties under the False Claims Act will once again increase. The increases are pursuant to The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015. The Act requires annual re-indexing of FCA penalties for inflation. On Feb. 3, 2017, the minimum per-claim penalty increased from $10,781 to $10,957, and the maximum per claim penalty increased from $21,563 to $21,916. These adjusted civil penalty amounts are applicable only to civil penalties assessed after Feb. 3, 2017, whose associated violations occurred after Nov. 2, 2015. As we have mentioned on numerous occasions, the False Claims Act (FCA) provides a means by which whistleblowers may file suit on behalf of the United States to recover for fraud committed against the federal government.
Increasing the FCA’s civil penalties strengthens the government’s negotiating position in FCA cases. This strengthened position helps the government secure additional settlements and larger civil penalties. The penalty increase does more than keep up with inflation; it also is a vital tool that returns additional taxpayer money to the Treasury so it can be spent in the way it was intended.
The war on fraud is fought not by soldiers, but by ordinary citizens, and that is very important. The FCA provides citizens the opportunity to combat fraud accompanied with monetary incentives and statutory protection. Whistleblowers who file FCA claims are eligible for a reward up to 30 percent of the amount recovered by the government. Additionally, the FCA provides protection from retaliation against whistleblowers.
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