Department of Justice Issues Guidance on False Claims Act Matters and Updates Justice Manual
The Civil Division today announced the release of formal guidance to the Department of Justice’s False Claims Act litigators. The False Claims Act provides important remedies for fraud committed against the United States. The guidance announced today explains the manner in which the Department of Justice awards credit to defendants who cooperate with the Department during a False Claims Act investigation. The formal policy, included as of today in the Justice Manual Section 4-4.112, identifies the type of cooperation eligible for credit.
“The Department of Justice has taken important steps to incentivize companies to voluntarily disclose misconduct and cooperate with our investigations; enforcement of the False Claims Act is no exception,” Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt said. “False Claims Act defendants may merit a more favorable resolution by providing meaningful assistance to the Department of Justice – from voluntary disclosure, which is the most valuable form of cooperation, to various other efforts, including the sharing of information gleaned from an internal investigation and taking remedial steps through new or improved compliance programs.”
Under the policy, cooperation credit in False Claims Act cases may be earned by voluntarily disclosing misconduct unknown to the government, cooperating in an ongoing investigation, or undertaking remedial measures in response to a violation. Even if the government already has initiated an investigation, for example, a company may receive credit for making a voluntary self-disclosure of other misconduct outside the scope of the government’s existing investigation that is unknown to the government. Similarly, a company may earn credit by preserving relevant documents and information beyond existing business practices or legal requirements, identifying individuals who are aware of relevant information or conduct, and facilitating review and evaluation of data or information that requires access to special or proprietary technologies.
Under the policy, the Department of Justice will take into account corrective action that a company has taken in response to a False Claims Act violation. Such remedial measures may include undertaking a thorough analysis of the root cause of the misconduct, appropriately disciplining or replacing those responsible for the misconduct, accepting responsibility for the violation and implementing or improving compliance programs to prevent a recurrence.
Most frequently, cooperation credit will take the form of a reduction in the damages multiplier and civil penalties. If appropriate, the Department may also notify a relevant agency about the company’s voluntary disclosure, cooperation, or remediation so that the agency can take those actions into account in deciding how to apply administrative remedies. And the Department may publicly acknowledge the company’s cooperation.
For the full policy, click here.