Qui tam lawsuits have been filed for centuries. In England, the suits originated as a way for citizens to protect their government from fraud. In modern America, the False Claims Act was created in order to combat abuses mostly committed by financial institutions, health care providers, and defense contractors. Given the economic troubles coming from the past few years, the federal government has taken notice.
With fraudulent actions appearing across the country in major institutions, the government acted to protect tax dollars and properly regulate the economy. As the free market still stands as the guiding policy in American economics, regulatory powers are necessary to keep the market legitimate and trade fair. As millions of dollars went missing over several years’ time, the federal government proposed the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act of 2009, which was passed with little resistance.
The Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act, or FERA, was passed in the hopes that enough legal redefinition and monetary support could reform the problems with fraud that plague the economy. One of the major changes added by the new legislation includes larger budgets for institutions within the government that are responsible for finding and prosecuting fraud cases. These institutions include the Department of Justice, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Securities and Exchange Commission.
In addition to a boost in funding, the government redefined a series of important legal terms. As the False Claims Act has gathered a long history in the courts, several definitions fell out of line with what Congress believed the intent of the law stated. As a result, the law made it less complicated for whistleblowers to file suits against corporations and required less overwhelming evidence to render that defendant guilty of defrauding the federal government.
With all of these changes to the law, contacting a qui tam lawyer can be an important step in learning about how this law affects whistleblowers today.