In a recent speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Institute for Legal Reform, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Justice Civil Division, Ethan Davis, elaborated on the enforcement priorities for the Department’s Civil Division for foreseeable future and specifically addressed the DOJ’s focus on enforcement of fraud related to the various relief programs designed to assist with the economic damage resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
In his remarks, Davis referred to the False Claims Act as, “one of the most effective tools in our arsenal” and suggested it would be a priority of DOJ to “aggressively use the False Claim Act against those to commit fraud related to the various COVID-19 stimulus programs, like the Paycheck Protection Program and the MainStreet Credit Facility.”
Of interest was Davis’ warning to private equity firms. “When a private equity firm invests in a company in a highly regulated space like healthcare or other life sciences, the firm should be aware of laws and regulations designed to prevent fraud.” Davis referenced the pre-pandemic, False Claim Act case brought by the Department against the private equity firm, Rotdan, Lewis and Halden for an alleged kickback scheme of prescription referrals.
Whether the Department’s professed efforts actually materialize and lead to increased False Claim Act enforcement, or righteous criminal prosecutions remains to be seen; however, given the amount of taxpayer funds injected into the various COVID-19 relief programs and the likelihood of further taxpayer-funded efforts, the Department’s vigilance is warranted and necessary.
For a transcript of Davis’s remarks visit: https://www.justice.gov/civil/speech/principal-deputy-assistant-attorney-general-ethan-p-davis-delivers-remarks-false-claims
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