Any time the government does business with corporate America we see abuses. Sometimes the Corporation takes advantage of the government, and sometimes the government takes advantage of the company. Nevertheless, there is often unscrupulous behavior behind it all. This is a very important area of criminal law, especially when it concerns the public’s money. Let’s talk about this for a minute.
There was a very interesting article the Wall Street Journal on November 23, 2010 titled “Lawsuits Bring in $3 billion for US,” by Evan Perez. Apparently, the US Justice Department has been quite busy filing lawsuits and collecting some of the money back that was defrauded from the US taxpayer. In 2010 they’ve already collected $3 billion back into the U.S. Treasury against companies who had cheated the government. Luckily for the taxpayer this is a 25% increase according to the article of the money collected from last year.
Now then, I’d like to discuss this for a moment because it is quite serious. We seem to have a problem where corporations in the United States think it is okay to cheat the taxpayer and the government out of money, to manipulate contracts, and defraud the taxpayer. The question I have is; why are we giving corporate welfare in the first place, and then being taken advantage of by all these companies. And it’s not just one industry, it happens in many industries.
Some of the biggest industries that have produced fraud are those industries with the most number of lobbyists in Washington DC. If the company is out defrauding the taxpayer, and they’ve been giving money to congressmen and senators, then this is a perfect example of where the problem lies. What if we just stopped giving out corporate welfare? What if the government stopped wasting our money and allowing this abuse? The corporations obviously feel they can have whatever they can get away with, and if they’re not caught it doesn’t matter.
Why else would they try these sneaky and underhanded things? And each time a company pays a fine and settles out of court, they do so without admitting guilt, but they go right on doing the same thing again, and if they are good for a couple of more years, people forget, and another company steps up to the plate and defrauds our citizenry and treasury. This is unacceptable, as most would agree and thus the cases involved in this regard, our great case studies for criminal law students looking at financial fraud.
After all, it is a criminal act to defraud the taxpayer, and yet we don’t do much about it. It doesn’t appear anyone is going to jail, even though the FDA, SEC, FAA, DOD, have fully documented all these problems. Now then, not all of these cases involved ripping off the government, many of the cases were merely ripping off the citizens, overcharging them, misrepresenting products and services – but that doesn’t make it okay either. Many corporations say the government is going on a witch hunt, and in some cases that’s true, but in other cases there really is a lot of fraud going on, and it needs to stop.