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Top Ten Whistleblower Recoveries for 2023

Posted  January 22, 2024

2023 was another big year for whistleblowers, helping the government recover billions of dollars in dozens of fraud enforcement actions.  As usual, virtually all these whistleblower-prompted recoveries were under the government’s three primary whistleblower rewards programs — the False Claims Act, the SEC Whistleblower Program, and the CFTC Whistleblower Program.  Successful whistleblowers under each of these programs can receive up to 30% of the government’s recovery.

Whistleblowers have received billions of dollars of awards under these programs over the years and this past year was no different with the Top-10 awards amounting to roughly $750 million alone.  This included an SEC award of $279 million, the largest award ever under any of the government’s whistleblower rewards programs.  This year’s tally exceeds the Top-10 awards in past years by hundreds of millions of dollars (see Top-10 listings for 2022, 2021, and 2020).

As in past years, the SEC is disproportionately represented in the Top-10 making up half the awards, including the top 2.  Also as in past years, Constantine Cannon’s clients made the listing with the firm’s representation of the KBR whistleblowers in the Number 6 spot.

Here is our listing of the Top-10 publicly reported awards for 2023.  We do not know the identity of any of the SEC and CFTC awards because of the agencies’ strict commitment to maintaining the confidentiality of their whistleblowers.

1 — $279M Award (SEC).  On May 5, the SEC made a $279 million award to a single whistleblower, the highest award ever under the SEC Whistleblower Program and the largest under any whistleblower rewards program.  While the SEC did not disclose the identity of the whistleblower, the Walls Street Journal reported the award comes from the more than $1 billion Swedish telecom giant Ericsson paid in December 2019 to settle SEC and Department of Justice (DOJ) charges of foreign bribery.

2 — $104M Award (SEC).  On August 4, the SEC made a $104 million award to seven whistleblowers.  At the time, it was the fourth largest in the SEC program’s history (now the fifth largest).

3 — $487M Settlement (DOJ).  On May 15, a federal court in Minnesota ordered Precision Lens and its owner Paul Ehlen to pay $487 million following a jury’s finding they violated the False Claims Act and Anti-Kickback Statute by paying kickbacks to ophthalmic surgeons to induce their use of the company’s products in cataract surgeries reimbursed by Medicare.  Kipp Fesenmaier, the whistleblower who originated this action, received an undisclosed percentage of the government’s recovery.

4 — $70M Award (DOJ).  On July 21, Virginia-based consulting and engineering contractor Booz Allen agreed to pay roughly $377 million to settle charges it violated the False Claims Act by improperly billing the government for costs that should have been billed to its commercial and international contracts.  Former Booz Allen employee Sarah Feinberg, the whistleblower who originated the action, received a whistleblower award of roughly $70 million from the government’s recovery.

5 — $345M Settlement (DOJ).  Indiana-based Community Health Network agreed to pay $345 million to settle charges it violated the False Claims Act and Stark Law by billing Medicare for certain services referred by physicians with whom the hospital system had a financial relationship.  Community Health’s former Chief Financial and Chief Operating Officer Thomas Fischer, the whistleblower who originated the action, received an undisclosed percentage of the government’s recovery.

6 — $31.5M Award (DOJ).  On July 5, Texas-based government contractor KBR agreed to pay roughly $109 million to settle charges it violated the False Claims Act in its US Army supply contract in Iraq by routinely ordering new materials when excess quantities of the same items were sitting in KBR warehouses in Iraq.  Former KBR employees Geoffrey Howard and Zella Hemphill Anderson, the whistleblowers who originated the action, received a whistleblower award of $31.5 million from the government’s recovery.

7 — $28M Award (SEC).  On December 22, the SEC made a $28 million award to seven whistleblowers comprised of a single claimant and two sets of joint claimants.

8 — $28M Award (SEC).  On January 24, the SEC made a $28 million award to two whistleblowers whose information prompted the SEC to open the investigation that led to the agency’s successful settlement, which resulted in the return of millions of dollars to harmed investors.

9 — $18M Award (CFTC).  On October 12, the CFTC made an $18 million whistleblower award to a single whistleblower who provided detailed information and assistance in a CFTC enforcement action and a related action by another agency.

10 — $18M Award (SEC).  On August 25, the SEC made an $18 million whistleblower award to a single whistleblower.  The SEC noted that after initially reporting the misconduct internally to the company, the whistleblower then went to the agency, which prompted it to open an investigation.  On January 19, the SEC made another $18M award to three whistleblowers in connection with a different enforcement action.

If you think you might have information that might qualify you for any of the government’s whistleblower rewards programs, please don’t hesitate to contact us so we can connect you with an experienced member of our whistleblower lawyer team for a free and confidential consultation.  Maybe you’ll make the Top-10 list one day!

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Annual Whistleblower Insider Top Ten Lists

Every January, Whistleblower Insider looks back at the significant government enforcement actions of the past year. Our Top Ten lists highlight the biggest recoveries and significant enforcement efforts by different government actors in cases of interest to whistleblowers.
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