12 Debarred Over Role in Syria Humanitarian Aid Fraud Scheme

May 26, 2017

Washington, D.C.—The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Office of
Inspector General (OIG) announced the debarment of 12 companies and individuals over their participation in a fraud scheme affecting humanitarian aid in Syria. USAID officials made the decision in April barring Orhan Senkardes, the Senkardes Company, and certain related individuals and companies from future business with the
U.S. Government for 5 years.

USAID OIG, which has been investigating corruption in cross-border humanitarian aid programs in Syria since 2015, provided information that led to USAID’s debarment action. “OIG’s pursuit of corrupt actors in Syria and the surrounding region remains as critical as ever as we work to protect life-saving aid programs from fraud, waste, and abuse,” said Ann Calvaresi Barr, USAID Inspector General. “I commend our special agents for their tenacity, insight, and continued dedication to our investigative efforts and recognize USAID’s willingness to take decisive action to protect taxpayer resources based on OIG’s work.” The OIG’s investigation is open and ongoing.

USAID’s debarment of the 12 companies and individuals applies across the U.S. Government. OIG’s investigative work contributed to the decision, establishing that Orhan Senkardes, the Senkardes Company, and Mr. Senkardes’ affiliated companies or personnel participated in a procurement fraud scheme with corrupt nongovernmental organization staff, including Luan Meraku, who implemented USAID-funded programs. Further, investigative results revealed that although the Senkardes Company, Selkas, Forvet, and Yigit Motorlu companies were all under Mr. Senkardes’ control, they bid against each other for U.S.-funded procurements under the appearance of fair and open competition. The debarred companies and affiliated individuals are:

  • Senkardes Gida San ve Tic Ltd.
  • Selcuk Benli
  • Forvet
  • Ismet Kalin
  • Selkas
  • Hecran Kalin
  • Yigit Motorlu
  • Zerrin Nalbanoglu
  • Orhan Senkardes
  • Erol Senkardes
  • Luan Meraku
  • Erdal Senkardes

The U.S. Government’s System for Award Management (SAM), www.sam.gov, provides further information on each of the debarred entities and individuals, which are currently excluded from transactions with U.S. Government departments, agencies, and contractors.

To date, OIG’s investigations in Syria and the surrounding region have identified a
network of commercial vendors and nongovernmental organizations employees who
colluded to engage in bid-rigging and multiple kickback schemes related to Syrian
humanitarian aid awards. The investigations to date have led to $239 million in
suspended program funds; 35 agency suspension or debarment decisions; 19 personnel resignations, terminations, or suspensions; and $19.6 million in savings for USAID.

Throughout the course of investigations, OIG coordinates closely with USAID’s Bureau
for Management, Office of Management Policy, Budget, and Performance, Compliance
Division. The division is responsible for making recommendations on potential
suspension and debarment actions to the agency.

Protecting humanitarian operations from organized crime is a top priority for USAID
OIG’s Office of Investigations. In addition to aggressively investigating allegations,
USAID OIG has also published a fraud awareness handbook and is actively engaged in providing fraud awareness training within the industry. The handbook, Compliance and Fraud Prevention: A Pocket Guide for the Middle East Crisis Humanitarian Response, can be found on OIG’s web site.

Anyone with information about suspected fraud, waste, or abuse in USAID programs in Syria and around the world is urged to contact USAID OIG directly.
Telephone
+1 (800) 230-6539 or +1 (202) 712-1023
Email
Syria Investigations Team: syriaoiginv@usaid.gov

General: ig.hotline@usaid.gov

Online, via OIG’s public web site
https://oig.usaid.gov/content/oig-hotline
Information reported to OIG is treated in confidence and OIG protects the identity of
each person providing information to the maximum extent provided by law.
###

Misr Sons Development S.A.E. Agrees to Pay $1.1 Million to Resolve False Claims Act Allegations

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Misr Sons Development S.A.E. (Hassan Allam Sons, “HAS”), a construction company with its principal place of business in Cairo, Egypt, has agreed to pay $1.1 million to settle allegations that HAS submitted false claims in connection with U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) contracts, the Justice Department announced today.

“Contractors who misrepresent their eligibility for government contracts undermine the government procurement process,” said Deputy Assistant Attorney General Joyce R. Branda of the Civil Division. “The Justice Department will take action to protect that process and to ensure that taxpayer funds are not misused.”

“USAID Office of Inspector General extensively investigated this matter and thanks the Department of Justice for its tenacity and dedication,” said Special Agent in Charge Jonathan Schofield of USAID Office of Inspector General. “Total settlements on this matter exceed $10 million and demonstrate once again that the United States expects its contractors to execute their awards in accordance with all requisite terms and conditions, whether operating domestically or overseas.”

The settlement concerns USAID-funded contracts for the construction of water and wastewater infrastructure projects in the Arab Republic of Egypt in the 1990s. The contracts were awarded to a joint venture partnership that included Washington Group International Inc. (WGI), Contrack International Inc. (Contrack) and HAS. The United States filed suit under the False Claims Act and the Foreign Assistance Act, alleging that HAS was ineligible to participate in the joint venture but that its participation was concealed from USAID. As a result, HAS and its partners allegedly received USAID-funded contracts to which they were not entitled. The settlement resolves only HAS’ liability. The United States previously settled with Contrack and WGI.

This settlement was the result of a coordinated effort by the Civil Division’s Commercial Litigation Branch, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Idaho and the USAID Office of Inspector General.

The case is captioned United States v. Washington Group International Inc. f/k/a/ Morrison Knudsen, Corporation, Contrack International, Inc.; and Misr Sons Development S.A.E. a/k/a Hassan Allam Sons, No. 04-555 (D. Idaho). The claims resolved by this settlement are allegations only and there has been no determination of liability.

Virginia Man Admits to Falsely Certifying Bridge Inspection Vehicles

Friday, May 26, 2017

Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, today announced that CAROL “CASEY” SMITH, 56, of Chester, Virginia, waived his right to be indicted and pleaded guilty yesterday before U.S. District Judge Stefan R. Underhill in Bridgeport to a federal charge related to his false certification of bridge inspection vehicles.

According to court documents and statements made in court, Under Bridge Inspection (“UBI”) vehicles are vehicles that contain a moveable boom with a platform. The vehicles are used to conduct inspections of bridges by positioning the vehicle on top of the bridge and, using the boom, lifting a platform carrying inspectors alongside or beneath a bridge deck. “Company A” rents or leases bridge access equipment, including UBI vehicles, to engineering companies and government agencies for use on bridge inspection and bridge maintenance projects. Company A’s UBI vehicles travel on interstate highways to job locations throughout the U.S. Company A has several locations, including one in Connecticut.

SMITH was the president and chief surveyor for Virginia-based Martin Enterprizes, Inc. (“MEI”). Between January 2012 and January 2015, SMITH falsely represented that he, as the chief surveyor for MEI, examined the UBI vehicles in Company A’s fleet on an annual basis. During that time, SMITH created 165 Certificates of Unit Text/Examination of Material Handling Device (the “Certificate of Inspection”) for UBI vehicles in Company A’s fleet. As part of the Certificate of Inspection, SMITH verified that he personally examined the specified UBI vehicle and that the UBI vehicle met federal requirements. SMITH also issued 165 annual stickers representing that he had inspected the UBI Vehicles, and he knew that an employee or employees of Company A would affix the stickers to the UBI vehicles, and that those UBI vehicles would be driven on interstate highways and used on jobs throughout the U.S., including Connecticut.

Between 2012 and 2015, in exchange for the Certificates of Inspection for the UBI vehicles, as well as other vehicles in its fleet, Company A paid SMITH a total of $76,400.

SMITH pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement, which carries a maximum term of imprisonment of five years. A sentencing date is not scheduled.

This matter is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Transportation – Office of Inspector General and the U.S. Department of Labor – Office of Inspector General. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Nancy V. Gifford.

Medicare Advantage Organization & Former COO to Pay $32.5 Million

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Freedom Health Inc., a Tampa, Florida-based provider of managed care services, and its related corporate entities (collectively “Freedom Health”), agreed to pay $31,695,593 to resolve allegations that they violated the False Claims Act by engaging in illegal schemes to maximize their payment from the government in connection with their Medicare Advantage plans, the Justice Department announced today. In addition, the former Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Freedom Health Siddhartha Pagidipati, has agreed to pay $750,000 to resolve his alleged role in one of these schemes.

“When entering into agreements with managed care providers, the government requests information from those providers to ensure that patients are afforded the appropriate level of care,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad A. Readler of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “Today’s result sends a clear message to the managed care industry that the United States will hold managed care plan providers responsible when they fail to provide truthful information.”

The government alleged that Freedom Health submitted or caused others to submit unsupported diagnosis codes to CMS, which resulted in inflated reimbursements from 2008 to 2013 in connection with two of their Medicare Advantage plans operating in Florida. It also alleged that Freedom Health made material misrepresentations to CMS regarding the scope and content of its network of providers (physicians, specialists and hospitals) in its application to CMS in 2008 to expand in 2009 into new counties in Florida and in other states. The government’s settlement with Mr. Pagidipati resolves his alleged role in this latter scheme.

“Medicare Advantage plans play an increasingly important role in our nation’s health care market,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Stephen Muldrow. “This settlement underscores our Office’s commitment to civil health care fraud enforcement.”

“Medicare Advantage insurers must play by the rules and provide Medicare with accurate information about their provider networks and their patients’ health,” said Chief Counsel to the Inspector General Gregory Demske of the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG). “OIG will investigate and hold managed care organizations accountable for fraud. Moving forward, the innovative CIA reduces the risks to patients and taxpayers by focusing on compliance issues unique to Medicare Advantage plans.”

The allegations resolved by these settlements were brought in a lawsuit under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the Federal False Claims Act and the Florida False Claims Act. These statutes permit private parties to sue on behalf of the government for false claims and to receive a share of any recovery. The whistleblower in this action is Darren D. Sewell, who was a former employee of Freedom Health. The whistleblower’s share in this case has not yet been determined.

The corporate entities related to Freedom and which were part of today’s settlements are: Optimum HealthCare Inc., America’s 1st Choice Holdings of Florida LLC, Liberty Acquisition Group LLC, Health Management Services of USA LLC, Global TPA LLC, America’s 1st Choice Holdings of North Carolina LLC, America’s 1st Choice Holdings of South Carolina LLC, America’s 1st Choice Insurance Company of North Carolina Inc. and America’s 1st Choice Health Plans Inc.

Today’s settlements were the result of a coordinated effort by the Civil Division’s Commercial Litigation Branch, The U.S. Attorneys’ Office for the Middle District of Florida, HHS-OIG and the Florida Office of the Attorney General.

The claims resolved by the settlements are allegations only, and there has been no determination of liability. The case is captioned United States ex rel. Sewell v. Freedom Health, Inc., et al., Case No. 8:09-cv-1625 (M.D. Fla.).

Department of Energy OIG Enforcement under a Trump Administration

The United States Department of Energy (DOE) is a Cabinet-level department of the United States Government. Its responsibilities include the nation’s nuclear weapons program, nuclear reactor production for the United States Navyenergy conservation, energy-related research, radioactive waste disposal, and domestic energy production. It also directs research in genomics; the Human Genome Project originated in an iniative between DOE, NIH and international collaborators.  DOE sponsors more research in the physical sciences than any other U.S. federal agency, the majority of which is conducted through its system of National Laboratories.

Former Governor of Texas Rick Perry has been nominated as the next Secretary of Energy, and a vote is anticipated in the next few weeks.  April Stephenson currently serves as Acting Inspector General United States Secretary of Energy and will continue to head the department,  unless Secretary Perry makes a change. As a practical matter, DOE is unlikely to get a permanent Inspector General installed for many months. This means that its roughly 70 investigative agents in roughly 12 US cities will engage in enforcement that is somewhat skewed by perceptions about what a future Secretary of Energy will want.  For these reasons, I would project that investigative agents will believe they will ultimately receive more overhead support for investigations developed now.

Based on basic familiarity with DOE contracts and DOE-OIG investigative activity in the past as well as reasonable assumptions about how agents will interpret statements made by Trump Administration officials, I see three primary areas where agents will likely focus current efforts to develop cases:

1) Clean-up Sites.

Clean-up sites are viewed as cash cows with poor oversight.  I have lost track of how many there are, but there are  more than half a dozen prime ones including Hanford, Idaho Falls and Savanah River.  The Hanford site is an example of a site that has had longstanding troubles.  CH2MHill took a hit back in 2013 for an $18.5 million qui tam and, just recently, at the same site, BNI and URS agreed to  pay $125 Million for false claims regarding deficient nuclear quality procurements and improper payments to lobby Congress.  Internal conjecture is that there are more false claims being made at these and at other clean-up sites and it would behoove any companies involved at these sites to brush up on compliance and internally investigate around vulnerabilities or weaknesses.

2) Management and Operational (M&O) Contracts

Management Operations Contractors, whether deserved or not, are a source of frustration to enforcers.  These are huge, large dollar volume contracts that are viewed by enforcers as having poor oversight.  Other sources of frustration is that enforcers believe that they have no visibility with indirect contractors.  This feeling is even generally held in regard to direct contractors where transparency is lacking and contractors are perceived as foot dragging.  Because of lack of appetite in some US Attorney’s Offices for these complex investigations, there was less support in the past few years than perhaps there could have been, but I believe this will begin to change as the Trump Administrations enforcement priorities becomes more clear.

3) Green Grants

Although these are smaller dollar volume contracts, legal theories are easier to fashion around bite-sized grants and the story around each is usually more accessible to prosecutors and potential juries.  There is lingering resentment that politics adversely affected investigations that adversely impacted potential prosecutions (see Solyndra as an often cited example in the opinion of some) and there is a view among enforcers that investigations involving more than $2 billion in green grants and associated loans guaranteed by the government were never pursued appropriately.

* * * * * Here for the Rest of the Story * * * * * 

 

Latest GrantFraud.Com post involves a $200 million credit card fraud scheme

Bradford L. Geyer is reading enforcement agency tea leaves and he is seeing signs of enhanced enforcement involving grant fraud and procurement fraud at grantfraud.com.  His latest note regarding an extensive credit card fraud scheme can be found here.

Fourth Individual in NYPA Big-Rigging Scandal Comes Forward, Faces up to Three Years and $250,000

Washington, D.C.-  The New York Power Authority (NYPA) has recently come under multilateral investigation over allegations of bid rigging, tax fraud, and market fixture.  The DOJ, IRS, and New York Inspector General are all working jointly in this case and have subsequently made their fourth indivdual charge.  John Simonlacaj (White Plains, NY) has confessed to aiding the NYPA in filing false tax returns and now faces up to three years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The original article is reproduced below with its link following.

 

Fourth Individual Charged in Ongoing New York Power Authority Procurement Fraud Investigation

The Department of Justice, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the New York State Inspector General, which are all conducting a joint federal and state investigation into bid-rigging, fraud and tax-related offenses in the award of contracts at the New York Power Authority (NYPA), announced today that a Westchester County, New York, resident pleaded guilty today to aiding and assisting in the filing of a false tax return.

According to the one-count felony charge filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, in White Plains, New York, John Simonlacaj caused another individual to file a Form 1040 for the tax year 2010 that substantially understated that individual’s taxable income.  Simonlacaj pleaded guilty to aiding and assisting in the filing of a false tax return, which carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

“Our investigation into bid rigging and fraud by companies supplying the New York Power Authority has uncovered a variety of criminal activity,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Renata Hesse, head of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division.  “Filing a false tax return is a serious offense and we are pleased to have worked with our partners in law enforcement to prosecute the criminal violation.”

“We say many times the FBI won’t stop until we find everyone responsible for their roles in a criminal investigation,” said Assistant Director in Charge Diego Rodriguez of the FBI’s New York Field Office.  “These charges prove our tenacity in digging until we hit the bottom of the pile and uncover anyone who had a part in criminal wrongdoing.”

“Today’s plea marks yet another defendant admitting guilt following a bid rigging investigation that began at the state level. My office and those of my federal law enforcement partners, will continue to follow the evidence wherever it may lead,” said New York State Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott.

“Mr. Simonlacaj is now held accountable for his role in filing a false tax return,” said Special Agent in Charge Shantelle P. Kitchen of the IRS Criminal Investigation New York Field Office.  “Towards pursuing its goal of ensuring that that everyone pays their fair share of taxes, IRS Criminal Investigation remains committed to this ongoing investigation.”

The investigation is being conducted by the Antitrust Division’s New York Office with the assistance of the FBI, IRS Criminal Investigation and the New York State Office of the Inspector General.  NYPA is cooperating with the investigation.  Anyone with information on bid rigging or other anticompetitive conducted related to the award or performance of municipal and state contracts should contact the Antitrust Division’s Citizen Complaint Center at 888-647-3258 or visit http://www.just

Original Link

 

Medtronic to Pay $4.41 Million in USDOJ-CIV Case

The Justice Department announced today that Medtronic plc and affiliated Medtronic companies, Medtronic Inc., Medtronic USA Inc., and Medtronic Sofamor Danek USA Inc., have agreed to pay $4.41 million to the United States to resolve allegations that they violated the False Claims Act by making false statements to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) regarding the country of origin of certain Medtronic products sold to the United States.

“Today’s settlement demonstrates our commitment to ensure that our service members and our veterans receive medical products that are manufactured in the United States and other countries that trade fairly with us,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer of the Justice Department’s Civil Division.  “The Justice Department will take action to hold medical device companies to the terms of their government contracts.”

“Domestic manufacture is a required component of many military and Veterans Administration contracts,” said U.S. Attorney Andrew M. Luger of the District of Minnesota.  “Congress has mandated that the United States use its purchasing power to buy goods made in the United States or in designated countries.  We take that mandate seriously and will not hesitate to take appropriate legal action to ensure compliance.”

According to the settlement agreement, between 2007 and 2014, Medtronic sold to the VA and DoD products it certified would be made in the United States or other designated countries.  The Trade Agreements Act of 1979 (TAA) generally requires companies selling products to the United States to manufacture them in the United States or in another designated country.  The United States alleged that Medtronic sold to the United States products manufactured in China and Malaysia, which are prohibited countries under the TAA.

The specific Medtronic products at issue included anchoring sleeves sold with cardiac leads and used to secure the leads to patients, certain instruments and devices used in spine surgeries, and a handheld patient assistant used with a wireless cardiac device.  The agreement covers the period from Jan. 1, 2007, to Dec. 31, 2013, and for one device (the handheld patient assistant), the period from Jan. 1, 2014, to Sept. 30, 2014.

The settlement resolves allegations originally brought in a lawsuit filed by three whistleblowers under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act, which allow private parties to bring suit on behalf of the government and share in any recovery. The relators will receive a total of $749,700 of the recovered funds.

This settlement illustrates the government’s emphasis on combating health care fraud and marks another achievement for the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT) initiative, which was announced in May 2009 by the Attorney General and the Secretary of Health and Human Services.  The partnership between the two departments has focused efforts to reduce and prevent Medicare and Medicaid financial fraud through enhanced cooperation.  One of the most powerful tools in this effort is the False Claims Act.  Since January 2009, the Justice Department has recovered a total of more than $23.9 billion through False Claims Act cases, with more than $15.2 billion of that amount recovered in cases involving fraud against federal health care programs.

The case was handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the District of Minnesota with assistance from the Civil Division, DoD, Defense Logistics Agency and Defense Criminal Investigative Service and the VA’s Office of General Counsel.

The underlying case is United States of America ex rel. Samuel Adam Cox, III, Meayna Phanthavong, and Sonia Adams v. Medtronic, Inc., Medtronic USA, Inc., and Medtronic Sofamor Danek USA, Inc., Civil No. 12-cv-2562 (PAM/JSM).

The claims resolved by the settlement are allegations only; there has been no determination of liability.

Mexican Businessman Arrested

WASHINGTON, Feb. 3, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Office of Inspector General (OIG) for the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) announced today that Fernando Pascual-Jimenez, age 44, was arrested on January 30, 2015, on charges that he conspired to commit wire fraud in connection with Ex-Im Bank loans resulting in loan defaults and claims paid by ExIm Bank of approximately $5 million.

On January 30, 2015, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents in Las Vegas, Nevada, arrested Pascual as he arrived on an international flight from Mexico. Pascual was arrested based on an indictment and arrest warrant obtained by Special Agents from the Ex-Im Bank OIG charging him with violations of 18 U.S.C. § 1349 (conspiracy to commit wire fraud).

According to the indictment, Pascual owned and operated CEMEC Commercial, S.A. de C.V. (CEMEC), a company located inQueretaro, Mexico. According to the allegations in the indictment, from in or around July 2005 through July 2010, Pascual conspired with others to obtain an Ex-Im Bank guaranteed loan for exporting U.S. goods overseas. The indictment alleges that Pascual and others conspired to create false documents and did not use the loan proceeds for the purchase and shipment of the goods guaranteed by Ex-Im Bank.

This case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Florida. The case is being investigated by Ex-Im Bank OIG, Homeland Security Investigations – El Paso, TX; and the FBI – Washington, D.C.

An arrest based on an indictment is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Ex-Im Bank is an independent federal agency that helps create and maintain U.S. jobs by filling gaps in private export financing. Ex-Im Bank provides a variety of financing mechanisms to help foreign buyers purchase U.S. goods and services.

Ex-Im Bank OIG is an independent office within Ex-Im Bank. The OIG receives and investigates complaints and information concerning violations of law, rules or regulations, fraud against Ex-Im Bank, mismanagement, waste of funds, and abuse of authority connected with Ex-Im Bank’s programs and operations. Additional information about the OIG can be found at www.exim.gov/oig. Complaints and reports of waste, fraud, and abuse related to Ex-Im Bank programs and operations can be reported to the OIG hotline at 888-OIG-EXIM (888-644-3946) or via email at IGhotline@exim.gov.

SOURCE Office of Inspector General for the Export-Import Bank of the United States

Omnicare to Pay Government $4.19 Million to Resolve False Claims Act Allegations of Kickbacks

Omnicare Inc., an Ohio-based long-term care pharmacy, has agreed to pay the government $4.19 million to settle allegations that it engaged in a kickback scheme in violation of the False Claims Act, the Justice Department announced today.  Omnicare provides pharmaceuticals and services to long-term care facilities and residents and other senior populations.

The settlement resolves allegations that Omnicare solicited and received kickbacks from the drug manufacturer Amgen Inc. in return for implementing “therapeutic interchange” programs that were designed to switch Medicaid beneficiaries from a competitor drug to Amgen’s product Aranesp.  The government alleged that the kickbacks took the form of performance-based rebates that were tied to market-share or volume thresholds, as well as grants, speaker fees, consulting services, data fees, dinners and travel.

“Kickbacks are designed to influence decisions by health care providers, such as which drugs to prescribe,” said Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Division Stuart F. Delery.  “Americans who rely on federal health care programs, particularly vulnerable patients in skilled nursing facilities, are entitled to feel confident that decisions about their medical care are not tainted by improper financial arrangements.”

“The District of South Carolina has devoted significant resources over the last three years to pursuing claims under the False Claims Act, and this settlement is the latest example of this office’s successful efforts,” said U.S. Attorney for the District of South Carolina William Nettles.  “I am very proud of the work this office has done in this area.”

This civil settlement resolves a lawsuit filed under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provision of the False Claims Act, which allows private citizens with knowledge of false claims to bring civil actions on behalf of the government and to share in any recovery.  The relator’s share in this case is $397,925.

“Kickbacks corrode our federal health care programs,” said Derrick L. Jackson, Special Agent in Charge of the Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in the region covering South Carolina.  “OIG is committed to unveiling these illegal reciprocal relationships, and companies making or receiving such payments can expect serious consequences.”

The settlement with Omnicare Inc. was the result of a coordinated effort among the Civil Division, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General.

This settlement illustrates the government’s emphasis on combating health care fraud and marks another achievement for the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT) initiative, which was announced in May 2009 by Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius.  The partnership between the two departments has focused efforts to reduce and prevent Medicare and Medicaid financial fraud through enhanced cooperation.  One of the most powerful tools in this effort is the False Claims Act.  Since January 2009, the Justice Department has recovered a total of more than $19 billion through False Claims Act cases, with more than $13.4 billion of that amount recovered in cases involving fraud against federal health care programs.

The claims settled by this agreement are allegations only; there has been no determination of liability.

The False Claims Act lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina and is captioned United States ex rel. Kurnik v. Amgen Inc., et al.