On January 31, attorney Jeffery Wertkin of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP was arrested by the FBI for attempting to sell a sealed False Claims Act lawsuit. Wertkin devised a plan to sell the sealed lawsuit to an employee of a tech company that was being investigated by the Justice Department for fraudulent billing practices. It is likely that Wertkin, a former attorney at the Department of Justice, obtained the case during his last weeks of working there. Donning a wig and going by the name of Dan, Wertkin arrived at a Cupertino, California hotel lobby to collect $310,000 from the employee in exchange for a copy of the complaint. Instead, Wertkin was met by FBI agents and was immediately arrested.
Wertkin’s arrest highlights a unique characteristic of the False Claims Act. The statute allows whistleblowers with information about fraud to file lawsuits on behalf of the government under seal so that the Department of Justice has an opportunity to investigate the whistleblower’s claims before they decide if they want to intervene. If any information about the case and its existence is disclosed before the seal is lifted, the case runs the risk of being dismissed or the whistleblower could be denied a share of any recovery.
You can read the full report on the New York Times website: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/08/business/dealbook/jeffrey-wertkin-akin-gump.html
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