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World of the whistleblower: often misunderstood by many

For many people in Texas and elsewhere, the goings-on that surround so-called whistleblowing can seem to be hyper-complex and more than a bit murky.

And that is certainly understandable, for these and additional reasons: Phrases like "qui tam" and "relator" pop up; there is the potential for the government to either intervene in a whistleblower suit or pass on the matter; questions can arise as to which party was first to file a claim (a key consideration); and financial incentives for stepping forward as a whistleblower can range widely.

And then, too, there is the fact that varied laws and processes can apply to whistleblowing actions.

For example, a relator (the common term used for a whistleblower) citing fraud against the government files his or her claim under the federal False Claims Act as a qui tam lawsuit ( filing commenced personally on behalf of the government, to protect the larger body against malfeasance).

Moreover, claims can be brought that allege fraud in the securities realm. The seminal Dodd-Frank legislation passed several years ago established a new whistleblower program that rewards individuals providing information to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in select cases that lead to fraud-related recoveries.

There are several important things to note regarding whistleblower actions, including these key points:

  • In order to receive a recovery, a relator must be the first party to file a claim; and
  • Time limits for filing a claim exist, which must be carefully noted and responded to with dispatch

Whistleblower-linked questions or concerns can be addressed to attorneys who routinely provide relators with knowledgeable and aggressive representation in the cases they importantly bring to identify and deter fraud against the government and other entities.

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