Benefits of U.S. False Claims Act Explored at Historic Canadian Charbonneau Commission

Canadian lawmakers are exploring the possible implementation of a False Claims Act similar to the American version.
Image source: Wikimedia Commons

The United States False Claims Act has proven successful in recovering tens of billions of dollars in fraud, waste, and intentional deceit. As the False Claims Act gains increasing domestic notoriety, other nations are showing a growing interest in this sort of incentivizing, anti-fraud program. Our Northern neighbor Canada recently allowed testimony from several top U.S. False Claims Act experts as to the effectiveness of the statute and how it could positively impact Canada’s growing fraud problem, which is infested with scammers and con artists targeting – among other areas – Canada’s construction industry.

At a recent Charbonneau Commission hearing, which is a panel of Canadian lawmakers and jurists convened to address corruption within public construction contracts awarded in the Montreal and Quebec areas, panelists entertained a wide range of testimony and explanations as to how a statute like the American False Claims Act could not only expose construction-related fraud, but hopefully diminish the occurrence of public contract fraud by deterring others from engaging in similar behavior.

Comments to Charbonneau Commission Panelists

The Charbonneau Commission, which is named after Canadian High Court member France Charbonneau, was created in 2011 following extensive allegations of extreme fraud by government contractors constructing buildings and monuments for the federal and provincial governments. Throughout the course of its existence, witnesses have detailed the use of bid-rigging systems by an expansive network of Canadian construction and engineering firms in order to win the contracts – a portion of which were then siphoned to various political campaigns. Similarly, witnesses have described collusion, bribery, and money laundering between construction outfits and politicians in all areas of Canadian government.

The Commission welcomed testimony from many well-known practitioners of False Claims Act litigation, including a basic introductory explanation as to how the system works. Justices listened as U.S. False Claims Act practitioners explained that by bringing together a team of forensic accountants and detail-oriented legalists, scams like public contract fraud could be unraveled and duly prosecuted. However, despite glowing recommendations from U.S.-based lawmakers, Canadian barristers continued to maintain skepticism, citing fear over plaintiffs engaging in a treasure hunt.

International False Claims Act Success

Canada is not the only nation considering the False Claims Act as a tool against fraud and waste. The United Kingdom recently explored this option after the Australian parliament adopted its Public Interest and Disclosure Act of 2013 – a statute modeled somewhat after the American False Claims Act and its qui tam provisions. Like in the U.S., however, the measure has been met with significant pushback from private industry, citing the increased risk of frivolous claims or unnecessary exposure. More specifically, industry leaders have lamented the possibility that a False Claims Act-type law may cause employees to further perpetuate a problem that could have been mitigated or stopped sooner.

Contact a Whistleblower Attorney Today

Fortunately, the American False Claims Act is already available to you if you are aware of fraud against our government and its taxpayers. For more information about this statute or how your personal experience could lead to a possible reward, please contact Berger & Montague, P.C. today.

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By | 2018-03-25T13:19:00+00:00 November 17th, 2014|False Claims Act Legal News|