In Defense of Whistleblowers: Poppy Alexander Appears on Law & Disorder Podcast
Constantine Cannon whistleblower attorney Poppy Alexander was interviewed as a featured guest on the Law & Disorder podcast. In an interview with Heidi Boghosian, Poppy discussed the False Claims Act, including its rewards and protections for whistleblowers. The FCA allows private persons, known as relators, to bring what are called qui tam lawsuits on the government’s behalf, and claim a share of any recovery by the government.
Poppy highlighted a number of False Claims Act cases pursued by whistleblowers represented by Constantine Cannon, including:
- A case against Cisco Systems, Inc., brought by whistleblower James Glenn. The first cybersecurity whistleblower case ever successfully litigated under the False Claims Act, the Cisco case was based on allegations that the company knowingly sold vulnerable video surveillance software to federal, state and local government agencies, exposing government systems to the risk of unauthorized access and the manipulation of vital information.
- A case brought in U.S. courts by a Korean whistleblower, who exposed a decade-long bid-rigging conspiracy by the five largest oil companies in South Korea to artificially inflate prices on fuel contracts for U.S. military bases in South Korea. The oil companies paid $163 million under the False Claims Act plus another $200 million in fines and penalties to settle the case. Poppy emphasized that the case illustrated how whistleblowers are uniquely positioned to reveal such collusive arrangements, which are notoriously difficult to uncover.
- The Wireless Cases, brought by an industry expert who, while not an employee of any of the defendants, had information supporting claims that the nation’s four largest wireless carriers failed to comply with promises in government contracts to deliver service “at the lowest cost available,” and provide rate plan “optimization” reports each quarter. The whistleblower’s actions resulted in the recovery of $138.7 million for the states of California, Nevada, and other jurisdictions, including political subdivisions in those states.
The discussion focused on the False Claims Act, but Poppy emphasized that the government has a number of whistleblower protection and reward programs, including the SEC Whistleblower Reward Program. As Poppy related, the SEC has been particularly active in areas including whistleblower protection and enforcement of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
Whistleblowers, according to Poppy, can be “powerful as truth-tellers” in a number of different spheres. “We need whistleblowers to expose the kind of fraud that might take place behind closed doors.” As an example of the different ways the False Claims Act can be used, Poppy highlighted the private corrections industry, including prison healthcare providers. While treatment of prisoners obviously raises civil rights issues, the False Claims Act can provide a tool for redress when contractors knowingly flout contractual requirements, for example by failing to provide required care.
- The False Claims Act
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