Federal Subsidies and the False Claims Act

If an organization or individual is receiving a federal subsidy of any kind and makes false statements to the Federal Government with respect to such subsidies, such false statements could subject the receiver of the subsidy to liability under the Federal False Claims Act. In short, if a recipient of a federal subsidy makes false statements concerning eligibility for the subsidy and/or the amount of the subsidy sought or obtained, the recipient could be sued for fraud by a whistleblower with knowledge of the false statements. In some cases, the recipient of a subsidy may not be legally entitled to receive it or even if they are, they may not be entitled to receive the amounts being sought. In short, false statements made in connection with an application for or receipt of federal funds are actionable under the False Claims Act and if someone receiving a federal subsidy is proven to have made such false statements, they can be liable for three times the amount of the subsidy received plus statutory penalties as set forth under the Federal False Claims Act.

The Cato Institute oftentimes blogs about government fraud, abuse and waste. There are many entries in that firm’s website about federal give-away programs and “unnecessary” or wasteful subsidies. Many federal subsidies are doled out without any follow-up accounting and/or audit of whether the entity or person applying for the subsidy is entitled to receive it and/or is entitled to receive a subsidy in as great an amount as is involved. This lack of administrative oversight, therefore, opens up virtually every federal subsidy program to fraud, waste and abuse.

Any person with knowledge of such fraud could qualify for a reward under the Federal False Claims Act if they blow the whistle on fraud in connection with federal subsidy programs. Since there is little federal oversight in many of the federal subsidy programs, it is apparent that fraud occurs in these federal programs, as in any other, and that whistleblowers would be doing all taxpayers a service if they came forward exposing it.

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