The “Program Fraud Civil Remedies Act”–A “Mini-False Claims Act”

For a “webinar” on August 11, 2009, I have been asked to discuss not only potential liability under the False Claims Act for false or fraudulent claims to the federal government, but also what has been called the “Mini-False Claims Act”: the “Program Fraud Civil Remedies Act,” 31 U.S.C. §§ 3801-12,

Because it is not feasible for the government to handle under the False Claims Act every conceivable case of a false claim in procurement, the PFCRA was enacted so that smaller claims could be handled in an administrative process.

A major provision of the PFCRA, section 3802, is reprinted below:

Chapter 38. Administrative Remedies for False Claims and Statements
§ 3802. False claims and statements; liability
(a)(1) Any person who makes, presents, or submits, or causes to be made, presented, or submitted, a claim that the person knows or has reason to know–

(A) is false, fictitious, or fraudulent;

(B) includes or is supported by any written statement which asserts a material fact which is false, fictitious, or fraudulent;

(C) includes or is supported by any written statement that–

(i) omits a material fact;

(ii) is false, fictitious, or fraudulent as a result of such omission; and

(iii) is a statement in which the person making, presenting, or submitting such statement has a duty to include such material fact; or

(D) is for payment for the provision of property or services which the person has not provided as claimed,

shall be subject to, in addition to any other remedy that may be prescribed by law, a civil penalty of not more than $5,000 for each such claim. Except as provided in paragraph (3) of this subsection, such person shall also be subject to an assessment, in lieu of damages sustained by the United States because of such claim, of not more than twice the amount of such claim, or the portion of such claim, which is determined under this chapter to be in violation of the preceding sentence.

(2) Any person who makes, presents, or submits, or causes to be made, presented, or submitted, a written statement that–

(A) the person knows or has reason to know–

(i) asserts a material fact which is false, fictitious, or fraudulent; or

(ii)(I) omits a material fact; and

(II) is false, fictitious, or fraudulent as a result of such omission;

(B) in the case of a statement described in clause (ii) of subparagraph (A), is a statement in which the person making, presenting, or submitting such statement has a duty to include such material fact; and

(C) contains or is accompanied by an express certification or affirmation of the truthfulness and accuracy of the contents of the statement,

shall be subject to, in addition to any other remedy that may be prescribed by law, a civil penalty of not more than $5,000 for each such statement.

(3) An assessment shall not be made under the second sentence of paragraph (1) with respect to a claim if payment by the Government has not been made on such claim.

(b)(1) Except as provided in paragraphs (2) and (3) of this subsection–

(A) a determination under section 3803(a)(2) of this title that there is adequate evidence to believe that a person is liable under subsection (a) of this section; or

(B) a determination under section 3803 of this title that a person is liable under subsection (a) of this section,

may provide the authority with grounds for commencing any administrative or contractual action against such person which is authorized by law and which is in addition to any action against such person under this chapter.

(2) A determination referred to in paragraph (1) of this subsection may be used by the authority, but shall not require such authority, to commence any administrative or contractual action which is authorized by law.

(3) In the case of an administrative or contractual action to suspend or debar any person who is eligible to enter into contracts with the Federal Government, a determination referred to in paragraph (1) of this subsection shall not be considered as a conclusive determination of such person’s responsibility pursuant to Federal procurement laws and regulations.

31 U.S.C. § 3802
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Since the late 1980s, our attorneys have worked with the nation’s major whistleblower law, the False Claims Act. We have represented whistleblowers who reported fraud and false claims in many government procurement programs, including contractor fraud in Iraq reconstruction, other military contracts, NASA programs, Hurricane Katrina and other disaster relief, research grants and cooperative agreements, and of course Medicare/Medicaid fraud.

Ever since the start of the new IRS Whistleblower Program, our whistleblower lawyers at Finch McCranie, LLP also have represented whistleblowers in the new program. We have represented clients with IRS Whistleblower claims in the hedge fund industry, other financial services industries, real estate, manufacturing, and many other businesses, as tax fraud, tax evasion, and other tax noncompliance are not limited to one industry.

For a free consultation about a possible whistleblower claim, please call us at 800-228-9159, or email us HERE.