WASHINGTON, D.C. | March 23, 2020 — The National Whistleblower Center (NWC) congratulates The Department of Justice (DOJ) Attorney General William P. Barr for releasing a statement on Friday urging the public to report suspected coronavirus-related fraud and directing all U.S. attorneys to prioritize the investigation and prosecution of such fraud. The DOJ also announced it has filed an enforcement action against a website offering a false coronavirus vaccine.
John Kostyack, NWC Executive Director stated: “We are pleased to see the Justice Department prioritizing the investigation and prosecution of bad faith actors who would profit at the expense of coronavirus victims. This is an important first step and is consistent with the National Whistleblower Center’s requests in two letters to the Justice Department last week for the establishment of a Task Force to Combat Coronavirus-Related Fraud and other steps to improve transparency and accountability. Now it is important for the Department to take the next step and announce measures to encourage whistleblowers to step forward with evidence of wrongdoing.”
On its new Coronavirus Fraud website, the DOJ provides information on how victims of coronavirus-related scams and fraud can report such wrongdoing to its hotline or webpages. However, the Department does not mention the critical role of whistleblowers and the False Claims Act in combatting government procurement fraud. Whistleblower have a long and successful track record working with the federal government to combat procurement fraud. Accordingly, the National Whistleblower Center is calling upon Attorney General Barr to announce how the Justice Department will prioritize False Claims Act enforcement in cases involving coronavirus-related procurement fraud, with special attention to qui tam actions filed by whistleblowers.
Kostyack continued: “Accountability and transparency around the massive coronavirus spending can be accomplished only with the cooperation of the federal government and everyday citizens, including whistleblowers and those who advocate for them. We are committed to working with the Justice Department and whistleblowers to ensure that coronavirus dollars reach those in need and are not fraudulently diverted.”
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