In this series we will offer some guidance if you think you may be in that position.
A whistleblower is an employee who gains knowledge of illegal or fraudulent activity on the part of his or her employer and brings it to the attention of the employer, local authorities or government officials.
There’s a very good reason for its growing popularity.
Whistleblowing can result in substantial monetary payouts for employees who call employer fraud or illegal conduct to the attention of government agencies. Whistleblowing employees share in the ultimate recovery (whether it be from a trial award by jury or judge, or a settlement between the employer and the government), and attorneys on both sides can recover substantial sums, as well. (Though Stephen Danz & Associates only gets paid if you recover, as almost all cases are taken on a contingency).
Lawsuits under the Federal False Claims Act (FCA) have resulted in $27 billion in recoveries to the United States Treasury. The treasury has shared that sum to the tune of $2.8 billion in shared payouts to citizens who have successfully blown the whistle on corporate wrongdoers who have been found to be stealing from the government.
The Securities and Exchange Commission made a $14 million dollar payout to a whistleblower who was instrumental in recovering a substantial amount of investor funds. The newly enacted Dodd-Frank whistleblower provision will result in millions to citizens who report violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) – among other laws.
The Internal Revenue Service similarly has a program that rewards whistleblowers who blow the whistle on tax frauds. This process resulted in one payment of $104 Million to a whistleblower who helped bring down a scheme of fraudulent practices by a foreign bank, helping US taxpayers avoid billions in taxes.
So, what if you know that your employer is engaged in fraudulent practices?
Here are some things to keep in mind.
1. Whistleblowing is the best deterrent to corporate crime. Price Waterhouse Cooper interviewed 5400 CEOs, CFOs, and CCOs from nearly every major global corporation. Key finding: Whistleblowers are the most effective source of information in both detecting and rooting out corporate criminal activity.
2. Time is of the essence. Even if you have the best case in the world – worth tens of millions to the government and millions to you, if you delay unnecessarily and the case becomes too old, it could be worth nothing. Delay is deadly.