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An experienced whistleblower attorney, successful trial attorney, former criminal prosecutor, and former reporter Representing whistleblowers reporting fraud on the Federal State Governments

One of the informants will get $37 million, the third-biggest payout in the history of the SEC’s whistleblower program, the agency said in a statement Tuesday. The SEC didn’t name the company involved or the people getting the awards but said the two provided high-quality assistance.

“Whistleblowers like those being awarded today may be the source of ‘smoking gun’ evidence and indispensable assistance that strengthens the agency’s ability to protect investors and the capital markets,” Jane Norberg, chief of the SEC’s whistleblower office, said in the statement.

Tipsters are eligible for payouts if they voluntarily provide the SEC with unique information that leads to a successful enforcement action. Compensation can range from 10% to 30% of the money collected in a case where sanctions exceed $1 million. The SEC has paid out about $376 million since issuing its first award in 2012.

DOL-300x200In order to assure that workers are being classified correctly, the Department of Labor and the IRS are working together to pay close attention to cases involving determination of work status and issuing the correct penalty to employers.

When it comes to doing work for money, employers can classify workers as either employees or independent contractors (IC). These classifications have a significant impact on the costs an employer must take on, as well as the control an employer has over its workers. The main reason employers would try to classify an employee as an IC is due to taxes. According to an IRS publication from 2008-2010,  “Federal employment withholding taxes represent nearly 70% of all federal tax revenue to be paid to the IRS, which seeks back taxes and penalties from employers that wrongly treat workers as self-employed contractors.” That being said, there are many actions in place when it comes to identifying which of these someone should be labeled as, responding to false classifications, and issuing penalties. With the rise in freelance services, this distinction is becoming more essential for society.

When it comes to defining whether someone should hold IC status or not, the DOL and IRS have several overlapping tests that will allow them to determine misclassification. While some states may have a different jurisdiction for working status, these tests are very thorough and effective at defining a general baseline. While these tests are truly impressive, and the DOL and IRS federal and state regulators are doing everything in their power to improve them daily, many professionals believe the simple approach of labeling everyone as an employee when status is not unquestionably apparent is the best approach.

Duke University has agreed to pay $112.5 million to settle claims that it knowingly included fake data in applications for federal grants that brought more than $200 million into that school and other nearby universities. The suit, brought by a former employee, alleged that the university was aware that a University biologist  included fraudulent data in a number of grant applications and reports, including for some work done with Duke pulmonary researcher William Michael Foster, who was named as a defendant in the civil lawsuit.

Former Duke biologist Joseph Thomas sued Duke in May 2013 under a federal whistleblower law. Under the False Claims Act, Duke could have been on the hook for up to three times the amount of any ill-gotten funds. Mr. Thomas will receive 30% of the settlement payout. Whistleblower Thomas was represented by John Thomas Jr. his brother with the firm Healy Hafemann Magee.

The NIH last March told Duke that grant recipients from the school would have to undergo additional approval processes related to grant renewals and extensions. Duke said those are in place until the NIH is satisfied the school has addressed “faculty accountability” with NIH regulations.

dominos pizza fraudWhile everyone enjoys a nice slice of the pie, Domino’s Pizza has had a corporate insider file a detailed whistleblower report with the SEC against top-level officers and various staff members. This case involves general misconduct and an alleged scheme involving misleading franchisors and fraudulent investments.

On February 19, 2019, the franchise community website Blue MauMau reported that “[a] corporate insider has filed a well-documented whistleblower report with the [SEC] against Domino’s Pizza, its top-level officers, and various staff members.” Domino’s allegedly forced an unapproved advertising increase to franchisees in order to pay a $1.85 billion Securitization Transaction to gain higher stock prices and dividends.

Details of this case came directly from a concerned insider at Domino’s Pizza who noticed the presence of possible misconduct and decided to blow the whistle on this major pizza chain.

prescription drugsWith the increased frustration regarding inflated prescription drug prices, states like Florida are pushing for legislative programs that would permit the United States to import drugs from Canada. If this bill were to pass, it would allow many of the identical prescription drugs consumed by Americans to be purchased for a third of the price. However, this is not the first time a bill of this nature has been attempted.

In Utah, a similar bill that would have allowed the state to import prescription drugs from Canada was eventually turned down after lawmakers spent two-years developing the legislation. However, representatives in the state of Utah have not given up and claim that they will try a variation of the bill again next year. Leading the original legislation, as well as the upcoming bill is Republican Representative Norman Thurston.

However, the state of Florida is the next in the line to attempt to pass a similar version of this bill, which would permit the importation of prescription drugs for both Medicaid and prisoners. If passed, an additional program of the legislation would also allow the importation of these products for residents of the state.

tax havenReports from London have shown that nearly a third of the billionaires located in Britain plan to or have already moved to areas considered tax havens. In addition to this sudden shift, there is also talk of an investigation into political party bankrolling from those that have chosen to relocate, as well as the delay in a vote involving the end of secret company ownership in offshore territories.

According to the Times news, 28 out of the 93 recorded British billionaires have been found through public record to have moved or been in the process of moving to a tax haven within the last decade.

Tax havens are locations in the world in which taxation is extremely light or sometimes even non-existent. Examples of these are the Channel Islands or countries like Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates that pay little to no tax.

Medicaid fraudWaveney Blackman, the owner of durable medical equipment company WaveCare Health services, has been charged with one act of healthcare fraud for filing claims to Medicaid for products that were never purchased through her business. Blackman pleaded guilty to these charges after one month and has been sentenced to 42 months in prison and ordered to forfeit $9.4 million, the sum of WaveCare’s proceeds from fraudulent claims.

During the years of 2010 to 2016, Blackman filed multiple claims to Medicaid for incontinence products, wound care supplies, and other pieces of durable medical equipment that resulted in revenue of $9.4 million. None of these products were ever given to Medicaid clients or even requested by one. These fraudulent claims were filed by Blackman herself, along with the assistance of her employees through a WaveCare biller.

Within one month of being charged, Blackman signed a plea agreement that detailed the illegal actions taken, as well as the proceeds she received from them. The government has seized a Mercedes, seven properties, and money traced to two separate bank accounts, and the judge ordered Blackman to pay the total of $9.4 million WaveCare reportedly received in fraudulent claims. She will also be sentenced to 42 months in prison.

Foreign-bribes-venezuela-300x194The president of a company based in Miami, as well as one of its former sales representatives, hoped to gain access to more work and receive payment of past due invoices by bribing officials at Venezuela’s state energy company.

The two men involved are Rafael Enrique Pinto Franceschi, referred to as Pinto, and Franz Herman Muller Huber, referred to as Muller. Pinto lives in Miami and is the president of the company in question at the age of 40, while Muller was a former sales representative for that company and is currently living in Weston, Florida at the age of 68.

Pinto and Muller were charged with two counts of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to launder money, and one count of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Act. Altogether these two were charged in a five-count indictment in the Southern District of Texas on February 21, 2019.

oil-company-bribes-300x200In a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing, the company, TechnipFMC plc, stated that they have set aside $280 million in possible settlement funds involving bribery-related offenses. The payment would be delivered to authorities in the United States as well as Brazil and France.

TechnipFMC plc is a company based in London that is often found engaging in projects involving oil and gas. They were formed through a merger in 2017, including the UK-based FMC Technologies Inc. and French oil-services giant Technip SA. In 2010, Technip SA paid $338 million to resolve its own issue involving FCPA offenses in Nigeria that involved using massive bribes to win contracts worth $6 billion. They then used these bribery-won contracts to build massive liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities on Bonny Island in Nigeria.

Moving back to the present, this current reserve of settlement funds is related to an investigation involving a number of factors. TechnipFMC states in a summary of their financial statement for the fourth quarter in 2018 that, “We are cooperating with the U.S., Brazilian, and French authorities in their investigations of potential violations of anti-corruption laws relating to historical projects in Brazil, Equatorial Guinea, and Ghana, and Unaoil contracts. We have been informed that these authorities have been coordinating their investigations, which could result in a global resolution.”.

foreign bribesHempel A/S, a coating supplier based in Denmark, has decided to settle allegations of bribery with a payment of $33.4 million to enforcement agencies in Denmark and Germany.

In April of 2017, Hempel A/S self-reported a number of illegal sales practices that were discovered in Germany, as well as other countries in Europe and parts of Asia. A statement involving this situation with Hempel A/S has stated for the record, “The unlawful practices were stopped immediately and the people responsible were replaced. Hempel has completed internal remediation, invested heavily, and established a robust compliance framework.”

Bribery, when it comes to the law, is the act of giving or receiving something of value in exchange of influence that one would not normally have influence over. While in some rare legal situations this may be a possibly acceptable action to take, in most cases bribery is a highly punishable offense in the corporate world. That being said, according to the International Monetary Fund, an estimated $1.5 to $2 trillion changes hands every year when it comes to bribes.