Without Experience With Procurement Regulations, and Federal Procurement Law, Your Criminal Case Could be in Jeopardy.
When the federal government suspects a company with contractor procurement fraud, there is a myriad of actions that immediately occur. If the contracting officer is involved, he or she will report the situation to the respective agency IG office or relevant government investigation department.
When notified that they are now part of a criminal investigation involving contractor procurement fraud, companies often seek to retain a traditional criminal defense attorney.
However, without the requisite experience and knowledge about the nuances and sub elements of the government’s case, the contractor is essentially left at a disadvantage and in a precarious position.
For example, government small business and SBA procurement regulations are extremely confusing, the relevant FAR regulations are just as complex. Nevertheless, these are the very same ingredients and core of the government’s case.
As a government contractor, you may not be immediately aware of the situation until a federal investigator starts knocking on your door or you receive a subpoena telling you to provide certain documents. This process is important to a government contractor because the documents you provide to the criminal investigator will also be the basis for building a case for contractor procurement fraud, False Claims Act criminal and civil charges.
Corporate executives should immediately seek legal advice from a top government contract fraud lawyers and defense attorneys that also have experience with the criminal process.
Defense Contractor Procurement Fraud
A criminal or civil case can develop for various reasons including price-fixing and bid rigging; submitting fraudulent pay invoices; progress payment fraud; allegations that a defense contractor gave false information about its product specifications; mischarging the government for the cost of services or supplies.
Other criminal investigations can occur for small business fraud under the SBA 8(a) BD Program. This has become very common in recent years. Violation of SBA regulations can lead to a series of criminal and civil convictions that include affiliation, limitation on subcontracting regulations and conspiracy to commit fraud against the federal government.
Once a government has sufficient evidence, there will more than likely be a criminal indictment for charges of conspiracy, wire fraud penalties, mail fraud and other violations that can lead to imprisonment and hefty fines and penalties.
False Claims Act Penalties
Penalties under the False Claims Act arise for a variety of reasons. They include false and misleading statements to the federal government, violations of the Anti-Kickback Statute, submitting false payment invoices; violation of the Federal False Claims Act by knowingly conspiring with and causing another small business to submit false claims for payment to the government for payment of federal small business contracts that we fraudulently obtained.
False Claims Act criminal and civil penalties also apply to subcontractors. When civil or criminal investigation starts, subcontractor liability under the Act applies. As a result, companies should also immediately seek from government procurement fraud attorneys that understand the criminal process and that can adequately protect their legal rights when responding to federal subpoenas or cooperating with federal investigators.
Figures: the minimum per-claim penalty will increase from $10,781 to $10,957 (an increase from $5,500 to $10,781). The maximum per claim penalty increased to $21,916 (yet another increase from $11,000 to $21,563). The False Claims Act penalties will be adjusted each year to reflect changes in the inflation rate, required to be done no later than 15 January of every year.
Hiring a Government Contract Fraud Attorney
Many defense contractors and corporate entities immediately seek to retain a traditional criminal defense attorney when an investigation for procurement fraud is launched. However, corporate executives and contractors quickly find out the lawyer is not well versed on the nuances involved in federal procurement law. For example, when small business contractors face criminal liability for violations of SBA programs, or FAR limitation on subcontracting regulations, there a specific legal definitions that do not apply in the traditional commercial sector.
When federal agencies launch federal investigations against government contractors, they also have the resource and help from other agencies such as the Small Business Administration, the Inspector General, and the Veterans’ Administration to help them understand the various sub elements involved with False Claims Act and other government procurement fraud criminal cases.
The contractor’s criminal defense attorney will more than likely have no experience or understanding of federal procurement law. This leaves the corporation at a substantial disadvantage. Therefore, retaining legal counsel and fraud lawyers that understand government contract law and criminal defense, serves the company well and can even reduce the cost of litigation.
If you are facing civil or criminal charges of federal defense contractor procurement fraud, find and speak to an experience state and federal criminal defense attorney that understand government contract law, False Claims Act penalties and liability and one that can aggressively defend your legal and constitutional rights