Justice reports record false claims recoveries

Monday - 12/19/2011, 12:29pm EST

Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Justice Department reported Monday that it has recovered nearly $9 billion in fraud against the government since the beginning of the Obama administration, a record three-year total.

The $3 billion recovered in the past fiscal year included an unprecedented $2.8 billion raised after whistle blowers filed lawsuits on behalf of the government to reclaim U.S. money or property such as Medicare benefits, military contracts and federal subsidies and loans.

Reports of these claims increased after Congress amended the False Claims Act 25 years ago to increase incentives for whistleblowers to 15 to 30 percent of funds recovered from the lawsuits.

Assistant Attorney General Tony West noted that 28 percent of the more than $30 billion in recoveries since then have come since President Barack Obama took office. He said that's because the president decided shortly after taking office to make health care fraud a major push of his administration, creating a joint task force between the departments of Justice and Health and Human Services to coordinate efforts.

"The president essentially raised health care fraud to a cabinet-level priority," West told reporters in an interview to announce the figures.

Most of the recoveries in the past fiscal year — $2.4 billion — have been fraud against health care programs. The largest recoveries came from drug companies, including $900 million from eight drug makers to resolve allegations of a long-standing practice of billing the government inflated prices. GlaxoSmithKline PLC paid $750 million to resolve allegations it manufactured and sold adulterated drugs.

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