DOJ recovers $5B in 2012 through False Claims Act

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The Justice Department recovered a record $5 billion in fiscal 2012 from companies that filed false claims against the federal government. Healthcare fraud, contributing $3 billion, and housing and mortgage fraud, contributing $1.4 billion, were the largest pools of recovery funds, said DOJ in a Dec. 4 statement

The False Claims Act is the government's primary civil remedy to redress false claims and one of its strongest methods to protect the funding and reputation of programs like Medicare, said the the department.

According to DOJ, fraud against the government comes in a wide range of forms, including false claims for medicine and medical devices under federally insured health programs, homeowners that fall prey to abusive foreclosure practices and the armed forces being sold defective products.

The process of making these claims comes largely from the act's whistleblower, or qui tam, provisions that allow private citizens to file suit on behalf of the government. If the United States wins in these cases, the whistleblower will receive up to 30 percent of the recovery. In fiscal 2012 DOJ recovered $3.3 billion through such suits and also saw a record 647 filed--some of which are to be decided in fiscal 2013.

Since the beginning of fiscal 2009, DOJ has recovered $13.3 billion in False Claims Act cases, the largest four-year total in DOJ history. And, of the roughly 8,500 qui tam suits filed since its 1986 amendment, some 2,200 were filed after January 2009.

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart Delery said that these civil suits led to criminal sanctions for some individuals and corporations. This includes 14 criminal convictions and $1.5 billion in separate criminal fines and forfeitures under just the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.

So far for fiscal 2013, the DOJ already has finalized a $561 million settlement with Abbott Laboratories--part of a $1.5 billion global resolution Abbott is expected to pay.

For more:
- read the DOJ statement
- read Assistant AG Delery's speech on the announcement

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