Whistleblower collects $51 million in Olympus kickbacks case

John Slowik  who worked as the compliance officer for Olympus America, will soon collect $51 million as part of the settlement paid by Olympus to the Government in a case in which the government alleged the company paid Latin American doctors kickbacks to use its medical devices.

In a qui tam whistleblower suit, he alleged that the company ignored his efforts to stop it from giving financial rewards to hospitals and physicians for buying Olympus endoscopes, which are used to examine the digestive tract.

Slowik said  in court papers that when he took steps to stop the kickbacks, he was bounced from his compliance job and subjected to “systematic harassment” that made him physically ill.

Under the False Claim Acts, whistleblowers who file suit on behalf of the federal government showing that taxpayers are being ripped off are entitled to a percentage of the money recovered.

In the settlement announced Tuesday, Olympus will pay $310 million to settle civil claims by the federal government and state, and Slowik gets $51 million — one of the largest whistleblower awards in history.

Olympus also agreed to pay $312 million in criminal penalties to avoid prosecution. The total settlement is the largest amount ever paid by a medical device company and the largest for violations of the Anti-Kickback Statute, which covers medical purchases paid for by federal health care programs like Medicare.

Jeffrey Newman represents whistleblowers