Hagens Berman Blog

Whistleblower News: False Claims, Navy Contractor

by HB Whistleblower Legal Team

07/10/2018

Contact Us

Swiss Say 1MDB Used as Ponzi Scheme to Bribe Officials

Malaysia’s 1MDB economic development fund was used as a Ponzi scheme by a clutch of conspirators to pay bribes and enrich themselves, Switzerland’s top prosecutor said days after former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak was charged with corruption for his role in the affair.

Swiss authorities are now investigating six people for their alleged involvement in the multi-billion dollar 1MDB scandal and two Swiss banks -- Falcon Private Bank and BSI SA -- remain under suspicion, Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber told reporters Tuesday in Putrajaya following a meeting with his Malaysian counterpart Tommy Thomas. read more »

Health Quest and Putnam Hospital Center to Pay $14.7 Million to Resolve False Claims Act Allegations

Health Quest Systems, Inc. and certain of its subsidiaries (Health Quest) and Putnam Health Center (PHC) have agreed to pay over $14.7 million to resolve allegations of violations of the False Claims Act by submitting inflated and otherwise ineligible claims for payment, the Justice Department announced today.  New-York based Health Quest is a family of integrated hospitals and healthcare providers that deliver surgical, medical and home health care services.  PHC is a Health Quest subsidiary hospital based in Carmel Hamlet, New York.

“This resolution is a testament to our deep commitment to protecting the integrity of federally- funded healthcare programs,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad A. Readler for the Justice Department’s Civil Division.  “We are determined to hold accountable healthcare providers that knowingly claim taxpayer funds to which they are not entitled.”

In the settlement announced today, Health Quest and PHC admitted, acknowledged, and accepted responsibility for certain facts involving the submission of improper claims for various health-related services, including the following: 

From April 1, 2009 through June 23, 2015, Health Quest submitted claims for evaluation and management services but did not sufficiently document the services to support the level of service billed.  As a result, the services were billed two levels higher than supported by the medical record. read more »

Whistleblowers’ options for legal appeals just got wider

A bill signed into law July 9, 2018, enables federal employees to file appeals on Merit Systems Protection Board decisions to any federal appeals court of competent jurisdiction.

The All Circuit Review Act enables federal employees, applicants for federal employment and the Office of Personnel Management to file appeals on cases alleging reprisal for whistleblowing or other protected activities outside of the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals.

The change is based on a six-year pilot program that also allowed federal whistleblowers to file appeals across a wider array of federal courts.

According to a June 25 news release by the Make it Safe Coalition, which is dedicated to strengthening protections for whistleblowers, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals has a largely negative track record toward whistleblower claims, ruling against the whistleblower in 240 out of 243 decisions prior to the pilot program.

“This is a significant step to improving the chances of whistleblowers to prevail on their claims in court and is cause for celebration. However, it is imperative that Congress continue to act to give whistleblowers access to jury trials and to strengthen whistleblower protections for those in the intelligence community and the military,” said Liz Hempowicz, director of public policy at the Project On Government Oversight, in the news release. read more »

Navy reprimands Hawaii sailor for accepting contractor gifts

The Navy has censured a Pearl Harbor-based active duty captain for "repeatedly and improperly" accepting gifts from a defense contractor at the center of a fraud and bribery scheme that cost the government about $35 million.

Navy Secretary Richard Spencer sent Capt. Charles A. Johnson a censure letter last month saying he accepted the gifts from Leonard Glenn Francis, also known as "Fat Leonard," The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Monday.

More than two dozen people have been charged in related cases, including more than 20 current and former Navy officials.

The Navy said there's a five-year statute of limitations for court-martial charges. It's not considering such charges against Johnson, but is evaluating what further administrative action it will take.

Through Navy Region Hawaii, Johnson declined to comment to the Star-Advertiser.

On July 26, 2006, Francis, who is based in Singapore, paid over $6,000 for food, alcohol and entertainment for a party in the Asian nation to celebrate Johnson's promotion to commander, the censure states. Johnson, who was serving with Carrier Strike Group 5 at the time, paid $500 for the party, the document says. read more »