On May 4, 2018, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia announced the formation of a “strike force” as “part of a new emphasis on procurement fraud enforcement within the Southern District of Georgia.” By this announcement, the USAO has signaled that it is taking an aggressive stance against government employees, government contractors, and companies that do business with the federal government.
When the federal government forms a “strike force” to go on the offensive, government employees and government contracting companies need to proactively position themselves to defend against civil and criminal investigations and to protect their ability to continue to business with the government.
Civil Enforcement Against Contract and Procurement Fraud
The civil component of a government contract and procurement fraud investigation generally focuses on potential violations of the federal False Claims Act. Broadly speaking, an individual violates the False Claims Act when he knowingly submits a false claim to the government.
If you or your company are the target of a civil investigation, a number of proactive steps can, and should, be taken to mitigate against potential penalties, including a robust internal investigation and an independent review of the evidence to determine if the government can prove all elements of a False Claims Act violation.
Criminal Penalties Against Contract and Procurement Fraud
The criminal component of a government contract and procurement fraud investigation has a number of federal criminal statutes at its disposal, including conspiracy, criminal false claims, bribery, and the Procurement Integrity Act.
With the myriad ways the government could seek to impose criminal liability, targets of a criminal investigation should contact a lawyer immediately to ensure that their rights are preserved and assist in making important decisions, including whether to speak to government agents, cooperate with the investigation, or to take steps to launch a proactive defense against the criminal accusations.
The term “parallel proceedings” is shorthand for describing simultaneous civil, administrative, regulatory, or criminal investigations or formal proceedings. Now, federal law enforcement agencies and the Department of Justice place a high priority on combating procurement fraud using parallel proceedings.
In a common scenario, the civil component of the Department of Justice will seek civil penalties against a company or individual under the False Claims Act, while at the same time, the criminal component of the investigation will seek imprisonment and forfeiture under criminal statutes.
Because a parallel proceeding tracks the concerns of both civil and criminal proceedings, it presents unique challenges that should be handled by experienced lawyers.
The attorneys at Crowder Stewart LLP are leading trial and appellate lawyers to defend against accusations of government contract and procurement fraud. They have extensive experience in representing government employees and government contractors in connection with civil, criminal, and parallel investigations, conducting internal investigations, defending against claims of fraud, and other compliance and government investigation matters. If we can assist you or your government contracting business in connection with a civil or criminal government investigation, please do not hesitate to contact us at (706) 434-8799 or crowderstewart.com.