Hagens Berman Blog

Whistleblower News: SEC Award, Medicare, Money Laundering

by HB Whistleblower Legal Team

04/16/2018

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SEC Awards Whistleblower More Than $2.1 Million

The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced a whistleblower award of more than $2.1 million to a former company insider whose information led to multiple successful enforcement actions.  The whistleblower’s information strongly supported the findings in the underlying actions and the whistleblower provided ongoing assistance to the staff during the investigation.

“The SEC has issued nearly $90 million in whistleblower awards in the past month alone,” said Jane Norberg, Chief of the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower.  “As these awards demonstrate, we continue to receive high-quality information from whistleblowers, which we use to detect and prosecute securities violations and safeguard investors.” 

Since issuing its first award in 2012, the SEC has awarded more than $266 million to 55 individuals under the whistleblower program.  In that time, almost $1.5 billion in monetary sanctions have been ordered against wrongdoers based on actionable information received from whistleblowers, including more than $740 million in disgorgement of ill-gotten gains and interest, the majority of which has been or is scheduled to be returned to harmed investors. read more »

Banner Health Settles Lawsuit Over Medicare Claims for $18M

Phoenix-based Banner Health will pay more than $18 million to settle a federal lawsuit accusing the health provider of submitting unnecessary and falsified Medicare claims, the U.S. Justice Department said Thursday.

The lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Arizona, was brought by a former employee. Cecilia Guardiola was a corporate director of clinical documentation who sued under the whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act.

"Her entire career has been dedicated to trying to make the health care industry act with integrity," her attorney, Mitchell Kreindler, told The Associated Press. "You can make a lot of money in health care by obeying the law and doing it with a sense of ethics and integrity."

Guardiola will receive roughly $3.3 million of the settlement, according to DOJ officials. Kreindler said he did not know what his client would do with the settlement money or if she plans to return to the health care field.

According to the suit, Banner Health charged Medicare for short-stay, inpatient services when they should have been billed as outpatient services, which cost less. This practice went on at 12 of their hospitals in Arizona and Colorado from November 2007 through December 2016.

The settlement also addresses allegations that Banner Health inflated the number of hours for which patients received outpatient observation care in reports to Medicare.

"Taxpayers should not bear the burden of inpatient services that patients do not need," Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad Readler of the DOJ's Civil Division said in a statement. "The Department will continue its efforts to stop abuses of the nation's health care resources and to ensure that patients receive the most appropriate care." read more »

Aruban official pleads guilty to laundering bribe money in U.S.

An Aruban official living in Florida pleaded guilty in Miami federal court to laundering bribe money, the U.S. Justice Department said on Friday.

Egbert Yvan Ferdinand Koolman, an official at Aruba’s national telecom provider, Servicio di Telecomunicacion di Aruba (SETAR), admitted on Friday to taking more than $1.3 million in bribes from American vendors in exchange for contracts, the Justice Department said in a statement.

Koolman laundered the money through wire transfers at American banks, authorities said. Koolman faces up to 20 years in prison, according to court papers.

U.S. officials have expressed growing concern in recent years about foreign officials using American banks to stow the proceeds of corruption. The U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act makes it a crime for U.S.-tied companies to bribe overseas officials to win business. read more »

Hank Greenberg Wants to Defang the N.Y. Law That Brought Him Down

The former A.I.G. magnate has spent over a decade fighting the civil fraud charges that led to his ouster. Now he’s taking his campaign nationwide — and is taking aim at the Martin Act, the securities law that brought him down.

What he favors: a bill introduced by Representative Tom MacArthur of New Jersey (a Republican who once worked for Mr. Greenberg at A.I.G.) to limit civil securities fraud cases solely to federal regulators. But state prosecutors say the bill would block them from filing criminal cases in their districts.

State securities regulators complain  that they would be kneecapped. Eric Schneiderman, the N.Y. attorney general, told the NYT, “This bill would be terrible for investors all across America.” read more »