Famous Whistleblowers: Spotlight on Mark Whitacre
The False Claims Act allows private citizens to file suit, on behalf of the government, against any person (or corporation) who commits fraud against the United States. This type of lawsuit is often called Qui Tam, an old Latin term meaning that a lawsuit is brought on behalf of the king as well as the plaintiff.
A “whistleblower,” the person who brings the lawsuit, is typically an employee or former employee of the company that is committing the fraud and is someone who has personal knowledge of what the company is doing. The government may join the lawsuit, but, if it does, the whistleblower may still receive 15% to 25% of any recovery that is made by the government. Whistleblowers do a service to all of us by exposing fraud and misconduct that may otherwise never have been brought to light.
Mark Whitacre is one such whistleblower. Whitacre exposed an international conspiracy to fix prices of Lysine, a food additive for livestock, while he was employed at Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) in the mid-1990’s. For three years, he wore a wire for the FBI and was instrumental in building one of the largest price-fixing cases in the nation’s history. The resulting case against ADM and other companies resulted in federal charges that ultimately settled for more than $100 million and resulted in further investigations of other price-fixing schemes by other companies.
In the end, Whitacre wound up in federal prison because he was embezzling money from ADM at the same time that he was working with the FBI as a whistleblower. Many advocates are still actively campaigning for his pardon and release, based on his efforts to expose what turned out to be a huge fraud against the government.
Florida Whistleblower Claims Lawyer
Because whistleblower claims are complex and fraught with legal and ethical pitfalls, it is critical that anyone considering bringing a whistleblower claim contact competent and experienced legal counsel before taking action. Call the Tampa whistleblower claims attorneys of Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore. We can guide you through this process and help you maximize your opportunity for recovery.