Energy Fraud Whistleblower Lawyer
Securities fraud is a serious problem across multiple industries, but the energy sector is especially susceptible. Unscrupulous parties develop fraudulent schemes to profit from the billions of dollars that the U.S. government spends every year researching, developing, and licensing energy initiatives to private organizations. The result is millions of taxpayer dollars being diverted for private and unethical purposes.
If you suspect energy fraud within your company or one that you work with, you may be wondering what you should do with the information you have. Does this scenario sound familiar to you? Perhaps you’re asking yourself questions like the following:
- What can I do about it?
- Will anyone listen to me?
- Will I lose my job?
At the law firm of Robert B. Landry III PLC, we will listen to your story, answer your questions, and, if you appear to have a case, help you take action. If you file a qui tam lawsuit, or if you work for a publicly-traded company, you may even be rewarded by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for your courage and willingness to take a stand, so talk to an energy fraud whistleblower lawyer at our firm today.
An Overview of the False Claims Act
The False Claims Act (FCA) is a federal law that allows individuals to report fraud against the government and potentially receive an award for doing so. The whistleblower and their attorney can file a lawsuit on behalf of the government and share in any recovery of stolen funds. These civil suits, also known as qui tam suits, are an invaluable tool in the fight against fraud and abuse of government money. You may be entitled to up to 30% of the money recovered as a reward for exposing and prosecuting fraud, depending on the circumstances of your case.
Energy Fraud Takes Many Forms
The energy industry is a diverse one, so fraud can take many forms. Below is an overview of the more common types committed against government energy programs.
Oil and Gas Royalty Fraud
When private energy companies excavate oil, natural gas, and other fossil fuels on federal land, they pay the government a royalty, which is a share of the profits they make. These royalties often amount to billions of dollars. Unfortunately, some of these companies funnel money into private pockets by misrepresenting sales figures or underreporting profits.
Misrepresentation of Mineral Values
The energy company miscalculates or otherwise misrepresents mineral values and pockets the difference, which may amount to millions of dollars depending on the size of the project. Those behind the scheme often falsify documents and records to support their mineral value assessment.
The state of oil and gas reserves is important information for investors, so energy companies are required to disclose it. If reserves are low and the company is having difficulty securing new ones, it can deter investment and reduce the company’s stock price. Consequently, some companies misrepresent the state of their reserves and put investors at financial risk.
Research Grant Fraud
Energy research is funded by grants from the federal government. Private companies and education institutions receive millions of dollars in government contracts each year for energy research and development, and, unfortunately, some of this money is misappropriated for private gain.
Oil companies and other energy businesses are eager to take advantage of the natural resources found in developing nations. In these countries, corruption is often rampant within the government, and many officials are more than willing to take bribes. Energy companies who pay bribes with the aim of securing business rights to resources are violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), which is enforced by the SEC.
If you work in the energy industry, a Louisiana EPA whistleblower attorney can help you expose fraudulent activity to the energy industry, protecting the interests of investors and taxpayers and possibly becoming eligible for a reward in the process. By helping to fight corruption in this sector, you play an important role in protecting the government’s biggest source of income next to income taxes.
Do I Have To Report Energy Fraud to My Manager First?
Several would-be whistleblowers believe that they have to report fraud to their employer or to the corporate compliance hotline before they can file a whistleblower claim. Fearing harassment, demotion, or termination, they remain silent.
You are not required by law to disclose what you know to your boss. Even though many people have done so and filed qui tam lawsuits after being slandered, harassed, or fired, you should know that you can directly inform the government of your concerns without your boss even knowing about it until after the investigation is complete. Talk to an energy fraud whistleblower attorney at our firm to go over your options.
Will My Boss and Coworkers Find Out I Filed an Energy Fraud Claim?
Are you worried that if you blow the whistle, your boss will know right away and retaliate? Under the False Claims Act, your case is kept “under wraps” while the government investigates your allegations. This is to prevent the company from interfering with your claim while the government verifies and investigates it. Investigations can take months, even years, which gives you the opportunity to find a more ethical employer.
At the end of the day, the Justice Department may or may not get involved. If they decide not to intervene after investigating thoroughly, you may be free to pursue the claim on your own. It is at this point that your identity becomes public, although the court may grant you anonymity in certain circumstances. Afterward, you can pursue the claim privately with a whistleblower lawyer.
Can I Be Fired for Reporting Energy Fraud?
Federal and Louisiana state whistleblower laws prohibit your employer from retaliating against you if you do any of the following:
- Reporting any violations of the energy law internally
- Starting a whistleblower lawsuit or preparing one
- Testifying in a court proceeding related to the alleged fraud
- Participating in or supporting an investigation of the employer
Employers do not always respect these rights, however, and some go on a mission to retaliate against whistleblowers. Talk to a New Orleans employment lawyer at the law firm of Robert B. Landry III PLC if you’ve been demoted, fired, or harassed after doing the right thing.
How Can an Energy Fraud Whistleblower Lawyer Help Me?
While there’s no law requiring you to use an energy fraud whistleblower attorney, qui tam lawsuits are not something you should consider handling alone. Whistleblower reward programs can be tricky, nuanced, and hard to understand, so going about your claim without experienced legal counsel can jeopardize its success.
A whistleblower attorney who is knowledgeable about the applicable laws and procedures can help you decide if you have a case. If you do, they’ll help you develop it, guide you away from common pitfalls, and protect your rights if your employer retaliates.
Talk to an Energy Fraud Whistleblower Attorney Today
At the law firm of Robert B. Landry III PLC in Baton Rouge and New Orleans, we represent clients in both qui tam and whistleblower protection cases. Attorney Landry understands the difficult position you are in and will protect your best interests throughout all stages of the process. To schedule a confidential and no-obligation consultation about your concerns, contact our office today.
Related: Whistleblower Retaliation Lawyers