Hagens Berman Blog

Whistleblower News: False Claims, Barclays Retaliation

by HB Whistleblower Legal Team

05/11/2018

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$14.25 Million to Settle Alleged False Claims Act Violations Arising From Improper Payments to Physicians

Mercy Health, a nonprofit organization based in Cincinnati that operates healthcare facilities in Ohio and Kentucky, has agreed to pay the United States $14,250,000 to settle allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by engaging in improper financial relationships with referring physicians, the Justice Department announced today.

The settlement announced today resolved allegations that Mercy Health provided compensation to six employed physicians – one oncologist and five internal medicine physicians – that exceeded the fair market value of their services.  Federal law restricts the financial relationships that hospitals may have with doctors who refer patients to them.  These issues were self-disclosed to the government by Mercy Health.  

“When physicians are rewarded financially for referring patients to hospitals or other health care providers, it can affect their medical judgment, resulting in overutilization of services and higher health care costs,” said Acting Assistant Attorney Chad A. Readler, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division.  “In addition to yielding a recovery for taxpayers, this settlement should deter similar conduct in the future and help make health care more affordable.”     read more »

Former Currency Trader Indicted for Participating in Antitrust Conspiracy

A federal grand jury returned an indictment against Akshay Aiyer, a former currency trader at a major U.S. bank, for his alleged role in a conspiracy to manipulate prices in the foreign currency exchange (FX) market, the Justice Department announced today.

The one-count indictment, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, charges Akshay Aiyer with conspiring to fix prices and rig bids and offers in Central and Eastern European, Middle Eastern, and African (CEEMEA) currencies, which were generally traded against the U.S. dollar and the euro.

According to the indictment, from at least as early as October 2010 through at least July 2013, Aiyer, along with other New York-based CEEMEA traders working for rival banks, participated in a conspiracy designed to suppress competition in order to increase each trader’s profits and decrease each trader’s losses.  Aiyer and his co-conspirators carried out this agreement by engaging in near-daily conversations through private electronic chat rooms, telephone calls, and text messages, in which they exchanged trading positions, confidential customer information, planned pricing for customer orders, and other categories of competitively sensitive information.  Aiyer and his co-conspirators then used this information to coordinate their live trading in CEEMEA currencies, including, at times, by certain traders refraining from trading against the others.  Throughout the conspiracy, Aiyer and his co-conspirators took affirmative steps to conceal their anticompetitive behavior. read more »

Barclays CEO fined $870,000 for trying to identify whistleblower

British regulators have fined Barclays Chief Executive Jes Staley 642,430 pounds ($870,428) for breaching conduct rules by attempting to identify who sent letters criticizing an employee of the bank, they said on Friday.

The fine from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Prudential Regulation Authority included a 30 percent discount for Staley agreeing at an early stage to settle.

"Mr Staley's actions fell short of the standard of due skill, care and diligence expected of a CEO in a regulated firm," the FCA said.

Regulators said the fine was only 10 percent of his overall pay package.

While it draws a line under an episode some insiders had feared might cost him his job, Staley is the first sitting CEO of a major bank to face such a penalty.

Barclays had no immediate comment, but is expected to follow up on Friday by imposing a further fine of its own on Staley.

The regulatory findings will also be closely read by lawmakers keen to ensure top banking officials are held accountable for their actions at a time when there are growing calls to better protect whistleblowersread more »