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Qui Tam: The False Claims Act and Related Federal Statutes

CRS Report – Qui Tam: An Abridged Look at the FalseClaims Act and Related Federal Statutes, Updated April 26, 2021: “Qui tam statutes enlist the public to sue to recover civil penalties and forfeitures from those who have defrauded the government. Qui tam rewards those who sue in the government’s name (called relators) with a portion of the recovered proceeds. A creature of antiquity, once common, today qui tam lives on in federal law only in the False Claims Act and in Indian protection laws. The False Claims Act proscribes: (1) presenting a false claim; (2)making or using a false record or statement material to a false claim; (3) possessing property or money of the U.S. and delivering less than all of it; (4) delivering a certified receipt with intent to defraud the U.S.; (5) buying public property from a federal officer or employee, who may not lawfully sell it; (6) using a false record or statement material to an obligation to pay or transmit money or property to the U.S., or concealing or improperly avoiding or decreasing an obligation to pay or transmit money or property to the U.S.; or (7) conspiring to commit any such offense. Offenders face the prospect of costs, expenses, attorneys’ fees, damages, and perhaps triple damages in a civil action brought either by the U.S. or by a relator in the name of the U.S. Additional liability may flow from any retaliatory action taken against a False Claims Act whistleblower. The False Claims Act features a first-to-file bar that precludes copycat or piggyback relator suits and a public disclosure bar that precludes suits based on old news unless the relator is an original source.If the government initiates the suit, others may not join. If the government has not brought suit, a relator may do so, but must give the government notice and afford it 60 days to decide whether to take over the litigation. If the government declines to intervene, a prevailing relator’s share of any recovery is capped at 30%; if the government intervenes, the cap is lower and depends upon the circumstances. Relators in Indian protection qui tam cases are entitled to half of the recovery…”

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