Money Spent Overseas

Money Spent Abroad vs in the US in Whistleblower Cases

Question: What should people know if they’re a witness of fraud and the case involves money being spent abroad as opposed to in the United States?

Answer: The statute itself doesn’t limit who can be a whistleblower to US citizens. I’m not aware of a statute that says a person has to be a citizen to bring a case, or that prevents a person who is not a US citizen from filing a case. If you can’t show some jurisdictional basis for bringing the defendant into a US Court, that could be a problem, but usually if the defendant is contracting with the United States government, you should be able to find a jurisdictional connection. I have not sued on behalf of a non-US citizen yet, but I have represented clients who were alleging matters of fraud committed abroad where the actual fraud, at least in part, was committed abroad.

One thing to clarify about the False Claims Act particularly is that whether the fraud is committed in Iraq or Afghanistan or somewhere else, we’re in Washington, DC. In Washington, DC, [the whistleblower case] can’t be that the government screwed up. If the government makes a mistake and throws money out of a cargo plane at 50 or 60 thousand feet and people pick up that money, that’s bad, but it’s not fraud committed against the government. During some of the Iraq situations the government was spending a lot of money, but just the fact that the government was spending the money doesn’t make it fraud. Just the fact that the government didn’t get everything that they paid for doesn’t make it fraud. Somebody has to misrepresent something at some point along the line. To bring a successful case, at some point you’re going to have to say, “They said this and it turned out they were lying about it.” That’s the problem with some of the cases that you hear about. People get upset when they think the government is making a mistake, but this law isn’t about the government making a mistake, this law is about the government being the victim of fraud.

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