Whistleblowers who know of fraud either in the regulation of securities, commodities, options and futures, banking and mortgages or in the reporting and payment of taxes, customs duties and tariffs can file complaints under federal agency whistleblower programs, including with the SEC, CFTC, IRS, and the DOJ. In addition, they may be able to file a False Claims Act qui tam complaint in court. As former prosecutors and as whistleblower lawyers, we are familiar with the priorities of the agencies that enforce these laws and have the expertise to present a compelling case on behalf of our whistleblower clients.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) whistleblower program offers significant protections and financial awards to individuals or groups of individuals who voluntarily provide information involving false financial reporting, fraudulent offerings, market manipulation, insider trading, and similar securities law violations as well as bribery and kickbacks to foreign officials in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) whistleblower program offers significant protections and financial awards to individuals or groups of individuals who voluntarily provide information about fraud or market manipulation involving futures, options, swaps, forex, commodities or leveraged transactions, or similar violations of the Commodity Exchange Act.
When people and companies bring goods into the United States to sell them, they frequently have to pay a tax or tariff called a customs or import duty. In 2019, customs duties brought in $71 billion to the federal government. Our customs system relies on importers accurately reporting the type, value, and country of origin for the merchandise they bring into the U.S. and paying the right import duties.
But unscrupulous importers find many ways to cheat the government and gain an unfair advantage over their competitors. According to a 2019 study, there were approximately 65,000 unpaid customs duty bills totaling $4.5 billion from 1993 to 2018 that the government is still trying to collect.
The government has long explained that it is very hard to catch customs fraud on its own. For this reason the government has increasingly relied on whistleblowers and the False Claims Act to combat and deter customs fraud. Whistleblowers have helped the government recover millions of dollars in customs fraud and received significant whistleblower rewards
Tax fraud deprives the federal and state governments of revenue to fund their programs. In a recent analysis of the nation’s ‘tax gap,’ the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) estimated that corporations and individuals fail to pay more than $450 billion in federal taxes each year. States also suffer from significant unpaid taxes, including income and sales taxes. The IRS actively encourages whistleblowers to come forward to report those who fail to pay their fair share of federal taxes through a whistleblower tip program established in 2006.
Federal law provides financial incentives of up to $1.6 million for whistleblowers who confidentially report fraud and related misconduct in the banking and financial services industries to the U.S. Department of Justice. In addition, the federal and state False Claims Act qui tam or whistleblower provisions may be used in certain banking and mortgage fraud cases.
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