Whistleblower Insider

Whistleblower Insider is written by the Constantine Cannon law firm team of experienced qui tam and whistleblower lawyers. It is updated daily to provide the latest whistleblower and fraud news and developments.
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March 22, 2017

Question of the Week — Will Congress Save Sesame Street (Brought to You by the Letter K)?

By the C|C Whistleblower Lawyer Team

Sesame Street, the children’s television program that taught generations of Americans their ABCs, the difference between here and there, and the importance of rubber duckies, might be on the chopping block.  President Trump’s proposed 2018 budget slashes funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), which funds PBS—the channel that shows Sesame Street for free around the country.

White House budget director Mick Mulvaney defended this move by claiming that the White House would not “ask a coal miner in West Virginia or a single mom in Detroit to pay for these programs.”  (At least some sources suggest the real reason for the budget cut is personal:  President Trump apparently has a vendetta against the show for depicted him as “Donald Grump.”) click here for more »

March 22, 2017

Trump Withdraws Nomination of OSC Head Carolyn Lerner, Popular Whistleblower Advocate

By the C|C Whistleblower Lawyer Team

In a move criticized by whistleblower advocates, President Trump “withdr[ew] from further Senate consideration” the reappointment nomination of Carolyn Lerner.  An Obama administration appointee, Lerner has been Special Counsel since 2011, heading the Office of Special Counsel (OSC).   The independent federal investigative and prosecutorial agency’s stated primary mission includes “protecting federal employees and applicants from . . . reprisal for whistleblowing.”

Lerner quickly became known for her vigilance in protecting and embracing government whistleblowers.  In testimony before Senate last year, Lerner cited progress under her leadership, including a “dramatic increase in [whistleblower] filings” and a significant upsurge in favorable outcomes for employees. click here for more »

March 22, 2017

Whistleblower News From The Inside — March 22, 2017

By the C|C Whistleblower Lawyer Team

Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams indicted on corruption charges — “A 50-page, 23-count indictment accused Mr. Williams of accepting lavish gifts — including trips to a Dominican resort, Burberry accessories, checks for thousands of dollars and a custom sofa worth $3,212 — from businessmen for whom he was willing to do favors. The indictment also accused Mr. Williams of diverting money from a relative’s pension and Social Security for his personal use.” NY Times

Top Fed official likens Wells Fargo fraud to mortgage crisis — “The notorious sales goals at the heart of the Wells Fargo scandal bear similarities with the flawed compensation systems that fueled the mortgage crisis, a top Federal Reserve official said.”  In a speech in London, New York Federal Reserve president Bill Dudley noted the “widespread fraud” at WellsFargo as a demonstration of the “powerful role – for good or bad – that incentives can play.” CNN

Beam Brothers Trucking indicted by federal grand jury — The trucking company is accused of conspiring to defraud the U.S. Postal Service.  According to the indictment, Beam Brothers falsely recorded when its employees worked and allowed its employees to violate safety regulations. WHSV

March 21, 2017

In Their Own Words — Bonifassi

— “It could mean the end of small fines — in the millions of euros — and that’s a good thing . . . France was totally backwards compared to the U.S. in that respect.”

French criminal lawyer Stephane Bonifassi on how the UBS AG trial could herald a change in how France combats financial crime.

March 21, 2017

UBS to Face French Tax Trial After Settlement Talks Fail

By the C|C Whistleblower Lawyer Team

UBS AG, the Swiss bank, will stand trial in France for allegedly helping wealthy clients evade taxes by hiding funds overseas. UBS had been in settlement negotiations with French authorities, but the parties had been unable to agree on the size of the fine.

UBS reportedly rejected a settlement proposed by French prosecutors that included a fine of $1.1 billion euros (about $1.2 billion). UBS was seeking to resolve the claims for less than 300 million euros, which is what the bank paid to resolve similar allegations with the German tax authority in 2014. UBS also settled similar claims with US authorities for $780 million in 2009 and is currently facing a similar inquiry in Belgium.

click here for more »

March 21, 2017

Whistleblower News From The Inside — March 21, 2017

By the C|C Whistleblower Lawyer Team

China Medical Technologies Executives Charged in U.S. Fraud Case – Xiaodong Wu and Tak Yung Samson Tsang, the founder and a former executive of China Medical Technologies Inc., were charged in the U.S. with stealing more than $400 million from investors in the bankrupt maker of medical diagnostic tests as part of a seven-year scheme. Bloomberg

Bill Making Some Whistleblower Deals Public Gets Panel OK – A New Jersey bill that would make public whistleblower settlements involving state, county or town authorities was unanimously approved by the state’s assembly judiciary committee. The bill was inspired by former Hunterdon County assistant prosecutor Bennett Barlyn who claimed he was fired after he alleged the state dismissed an indictment involving Christie supporters. U.S. News

Maine woman sues California security firm, alleging violation of whistleblower protection law – A Maine woman has filed suit in federal court against Vescom, a California security services firm, alleging the company retaliated against her when she complained about allegedly illegal acts being committed by one of its executives. Portland Press Herald

March 20, 2017

Gorsuch Supreme Court Confirmation Hearings Begin

By the C|C Whistleblower Lawyer Team

This morning the Supreme Court confirmation hearing of Judge Neil Gorsuch before the Senate Judiciary Committee began. In his opening statement, Senator Charles Grassley praised Judge Gorsuch as a nominee “whose grasp on the separation of powers, including judicial independence, enlivens his body of work.” Senator Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the committee, referenced back to the failed nomination of Judge Merrick Garland who did not receive a confirmation last year after being nominated by former President Obama.

The start of the hearing presents a conundrum for Colorado Senator Michael Bennet. Senator Bennet faces pressure from his party to reject Gorsuch’s nomination while simultaneously balancing his relationship with Gorsuch as a fellow Coloradan and the mutual ties between Gorsuch and Bennet to Colorado billionaire Philip Anschutz. Prior to the start of the confirmation hearings, Judge Gorsuch met with 72 senators according to his team. click here for more »

March 20, 2017

Whistleblower News From The Inside — March 20, 2017

By the C|C Whistleblower Lawyer Team

After SCOTUS’ ‘Escobar’ Decision, Courts Increasingly Sink Implied-Certification FCA Suits – Since the June 2016 Supreme Court decision in Escobar, several federal courts have strictly interpreted the viability of implied-certification suits. A recent example in US ex rel. McBride v. Haliburton in the United States Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit demonstrates this new focus. Forbes

Jury Awards Whistle-Blower $2 Million in SF Sewer-Fraud Case –  A jury ruled Friday that San Francisco must award a former deputy city attorney more than $2 million in damages in a lawsuit that said she was fired for exposing a long-running illegal payment scheme between municipal officials and plumbing companies. A unanimous jury decision in San Francisco Superior Court found the city violated statutes under both the California Whistleblower Protection Act and False Claims Act in the firing of Joanne Hoeper. SF Chronicle

UBS ‘Very Pessimistic’ About Settling Tax Fraud Case in France – UBS Group AG is “very pessimistic” about reaching an agreement with French authorities to settle a case of alleged tax fraud that forced the bank to post a 1.1 billion-euro ($1.2 billion) bond to cover any potential penalties three years ago, Journal du Dimanche reported. France’s financial prosecutor is seeking a 1.1 billion-euro fine from UBS to settle the case with no admission of guilt from the lender, the French newspaper said Sunday, citing unidentified sources. Bloomberg

March 17, 2017

In Their Own Words — Vestager

–“If people are concerned by business practices that they think are wrong, they can help put things right…Information can contribute to the success of our investigations quickly and more efficiently to the benefit of consumers and the EU’s economy as a whole”

EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager commenting on the EU’s new anonymous whistleblower tool to report antitrust violations.  Click here for more.

March 17, 2017

Fraudster Of The Week — Ben Johnson, Maker of “Drinkable Sunscreen”

By the C|C Whistleblower Lawyer Team

On Tuesday, the Iowa Attorney General’s Office filed suit against Osmosis LLC and Harmonized Water LLC, two Colorado-based companies that have been hawking a “drinkable sunscreen” product to consumers.  The lawsuit alleges that the companies, both of which are owned by Benjamin Taylor Johnson, deceived Iowans by advertising water with properties it did not have.   The “sunscreen” water sells for at least $30-a-pop.

Osmosis, which has been selling its “UV Neutralizer” for several years, advertises the product as the “world’s first drinkable sunscreen.”  The company claims that the water contains a “form of radio frequencies called scalar waves.”  When ingested, these waves purportedly “vibrate above the skin to neutralize UVA and UVB, creating protection comparable to an SPF 30.”  The company also sells a water-based mosquito repellent that similarly purports to create an anti-bug “vibrating shield,” called Harmonized H2O Mosquito. click here for more »