In June 2009, a whistleblower came forward and accused CH2M Hill of engaging in a massive time card fraud. According to the whistleblower, a former employee, employees of the company had routinely overstated their hours on time cards with the full knowledge of management, which sent padded invoices to the Energy Department. Despite his federal False Claims Act complaint, he pled guilty to fraud for his part in the illegal activity.
This week, CH2M Hill announced that it has reached an agreement with the Department of Justice. In exchange for an agreement that no criminal charges will be brought against the company, it has agreed to pay $16.5 million in connection with the False Claims Act complaint and to repay the Department of Energy the $1.95 million it allegedly defrauded from the agency.
In addition, the company signed a consent decree requiring it to cooperate with the ongoing criminal fraud investigation, spend $500,000 on accountability software, and submit to a corporate monitor.
The company "is satisfied with the amicable resolution," said a CH2M Hill spokesperson after the settlement. "It goes without saying that we are very disappointed by the conduct that made the settlement necessary."
In this particular case, the whistleblower was involved in the fraud and took responsibility for it. In most cases, however, whistleblowers are innocent employees who bravely let authorities know about illegal activities. In such cases, whistleblowers are protected from retaliation by their employers. In cases of proper whistleblowing under the False Claims Act, the employee can even receive a substantial reward. It can take time, but blowing the whistle on illegal activity makes a difference.
Source: Thomson Reuters News & Insight, "Contractor to pay $18.5 mln over time card fraud," Brendan O'Brien, March 8, 2013