Qui Tam and False Claims Act

Qui tam

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In common law, a writ of qui tam is a writ whereby a private individual who assists a prosecution can receive all or part of any penalty imposed. Its name is an abbreviation of the Latin phrase qui tam pro domino rege quam pro se ipso in hac parte sequitur, meaning “[he] who sues in this matter for the king as well as for himself.”

The writ fell into disuse in England and Wales following the Common Informers Act 1951 but, as of 2010, remains current in the United States under the False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. § 3729 et seq., which allows a private individual, or “whistleblower,” with knowledge of past or present fraud committed against the federal government to bring suit on its behalf. There are also qui tam provisions in 18 U.S.C. § 962 regarding arming vessels against friendly nations, 25 U.S.C. § 201 regarding violating Indian protection laws, 46a U.S.C. 723 regarding the removal of undersea treasure from the Florida coast to foreign nations, and 35 U.S.C. § 292 regarding false marking. In February 2011, the qui tam provision regarding false marking was held to be unconstitutional by a U.S. District Court,[1] and in September of that year, the enactment of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act effectively removed qui tam remedies from § 292.[2]

31 U.S. Code § 3729 – False claims

Current through Pub. L. 113-88. (See Public Laws for the current Congress.)

(a) Liability for Certain Acts.—

(1) In general.— Subject to paragraph (2), any person who—

(A) knowingly presents, or causes to be presented, a false or fraudulent claim for payment or approval;
(B) knowingly makes, uses, or causes to be made or used, a false record or statement material to a false or fraudulent claim;
(C) conspires to commit a violation of subparagraph (A), (B), (D), (E), (F), or (G);
(D) has possession, custody, or control of property or money used, or to be used, by the Government and knowingly delivers, or causes to be delivered, less than all of that money or property;
(E) is authorized to make or deliver a document certifying receipt of property used, or to be used, by the Government and, intending to defraud the Government, makes or delivers the receipt without completely knowing that the information on the receipt is true;
(F) knowingly buys, or receives as a pledge of an obligation or debt, public property from an officer or employee of the Government, or a member of the Armed Forces, who lawfully may not sell or pledge property; or
(G) knowingly makes, uses, or causes to be made or used, a false record or statement material to an obligation to pay or transmit money or property to the Government, or knowingly conceals or knowingly and improperly avoids or decreases an obligation to pay or transmit money or property to the Government,

is liable to the United States Government for a civil penalty of not less than $5,000 and not more than $10,000, as adjusted by the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990 (28 U.S.C. 2461 note; Public Law 104–410  [1] ), plus 3 times the amount of damages which the Government sustains because of the act of that person.
(2) Reduced damages.— If the court finds that—

(A) the person committing the violation of this subsection furnished officials of the United States responsible for investigating false claims violations with all information known to such person about the violation within 30 days after the date on which the defendant first obtained the information;
(B) such person fully cooperated with any Government investigation of such violation; and
(C) at the time such person furnished the United States with the information about the violation, no criminal prosecution, civil action, or administrative action had commenced under this title with respect to such violation, and the person did not have actual knowledge of the existence of an investigation into such violation,
the court may assess not less than 2 times the amount of damages which the Government sustains because of the act of that person.
(3) Costs of civil actions.— A person violating this subsection shall also be liable to the United States Government for the costs of a civil action brought to recover any such penalty or damages.
(b) Definitions.— For purposes of this section—

(1) the terms “knowing” and “knowingly”—

(A) mean that a person, with respect to information—

(i) has actual knowledge of the information;
(ii) acts in deliberate ignorance of the truth or falsity of the information; or
(iii) acts in reckless disregard of the truth or falsity of the information; and
(B) require no proof of specific intent to defraud;
(2) the term “claim”—

(A) means any request or demand, whether under a contract or otherwise, for money or property and whether or not the United States has title to the money or property, that—

(i) is presented to an officer, employee, or agent of the United States; or
(ii) is made to a contractor, grantee, or other recipient, if the money or property is to be spent or used on the Government’s behalf or to advance a Government program or interest, and if the United States Government—

(I) provides or has provided any portion of the money or property requested or demanded; or
(II) will reimburse such contractor, grantee, or other recipient for any portion of the money or property which is requested or demanded; and
(B) does not include requests or demands for money or property that the Government has paid to an individual as compensation for Federal employment or as an income subsidy with no restrictions on that individual’s use of the money or property;
(3) the term “obligation” means an established duty, whether or not fixed, arising from an express or implied contractual, grantor-grantee, or licensor-licensee relationship, from a fee-based or similar relationship, from statute or regulation, or from the retention of any overpayment; and
(4) the term “material” means having a natural tendency to influence, or be capable of influencing, the payment or receipt of money or property.
(c) Exemption From Disclosure.— Any information furnished pursuant to subsection (a)(2) shall be exempt from disclosure under section 552 of title 5.

(d) Exclusion.— This section does not apply to claims, records, or statements made under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.

 

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