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FALSE CLAIMS ACT

The Federal False Claims Act (“FCA”) prohibits individuals and companies from submitting false or fraudulent claims or statements to the United States government. The FCA applies to any false claims or statement submitted to receive payment from the government for any goods or services. 

For example, the FCA applies to any submissions from a government contractor seeking payment under a contract to provide goods or services to the government. The FCA applies not only to invoices themselves, but to all certifications, attestations, or underlying documentation used to support, or submitted as part of, a request for payment.

The government may bring a suit against an individual or company it claims has violated the FCA. If successful, the government can obtain up to three times any funds paid out by the government as a result of the false claim. In addition, the court can levy a fine for each false statement submitted by the defendant. Moreover, an individual citizen may bring a qui tam, or whistleblower suit against an individual or company on behalf of the government. If successful, the whistleblower may receive up to 30% of the money recovered as a result of the suit.

An FCA claim can cause great disruption and expense for a company targeted by the claim. Often, the best way to protect oneself from such a claim is to have a robust compliance program in place which educates employees on the requirements of working under a government contract and audits claims submitted to the government to ensure compliance with all rules and regulations. If a company learns that it is the subject of an FCA complaint, it is important to take affirmative steps to investigate the claim, rectify any deficiencies found through the investigation, consult with legal counsel, and communicate with the government to arrive at a resolution of the matter.

For more information on our False Claims Act experience within the higher education industry, please click here.

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