The False Claims Act (FCA) is used by the government to combat fraud claims, allowing whistleblowers to bring forth allegations of wrongdoing on behalf of the government (called “qui tam” lawsuits). The FCA provides that any person who knowingly submits, or causes to submit, false claims to the government is liable for three times the government’s damages plus a penalty that is linked to inflation.  This is a primary tool used by the government to combat fraud.  For the fiscal year ending September 30, 2023, the Department of Justice obtained more than $2.68 billion in settlements and judgments from civil cases involving the FCA.

Individual representation in FCA investigations—as compared to corporate representation of the company—plays a pivotal role in safeguarding an individual’s rights and interests for several reasons.

First, individual representation ensures that individuals facing FCA investigations have knowledgeable advocates by their side.  From responding to subpoenas and providing information to negotiating settlements or litigating in court, legal representation helps individuals navigate each step with confidence and competence.

Second, individual representation helps protect individuals from potential pitfalls and legal risks. FCA investigations can be lengthy and complex, involving extensive document reviews, witness interviews, and legal analysis. Individuals who are implicated in these investigations require skilled counsel who can advise clients on their rights, responsibilities, and the potential consequences of their actions, minimizing the risk of adverse outcomes.

Third, individual representation allows, when appropriate, proper communication between and amongst the individuals and corporate entities.  It is important for individuals to know all their rights and obligations to both the government and his or her employer.  This includes ensuring that the individual is fully advised about Fifth Amendment implications and legal strategies when responding to a Civil Investigative Demand or deposition request.

Individual representation is indispensable in navigating False Claims Act investigations. When facing allegations of fraud, individuals need skilled attorneys to advocate for their interests, protect their rights and guide them through the complexities of FCA cases.

Matthew P. Massey is a Partner in the White Collar, Government Investigations, and Special Matters Group.  He is a former Assistant U.S. Attorney with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.  He represents businesses and individuals in high stakes matters including federal criminal defense and white-collar investigations.