Procurement Fraud Explained by a New York Criminal Lawyer
When any public agency wishes to obtain goods or services, it must go through an official procurement process. There are strict laws aimed at preventing fraud during the procurement process, but government procurement fraud occurs despite these guidelines. When fraud allegations are made, an investigation may be conducted by both state and federal authorities depending upon what public agency was allegedly defrauded.
Defendants accused of procurement fraud could face criminal prosecution as well as a civil lawsuit which could result in significant financial penalties. Bukh Law Firm, PLLC has experience providing representation to clients during a procurement fraud investigation and when criminal or civil charges are filed. For help responding to serious allegations against you or your business, call today to speak with a NYC criminal lawyer with experience in government procurement fraud cases.
What is Government Procurement Fraud?
Government procurement fraud involves making false or misleading statements in connection with bidding on, securing, or awarding government contracts. Those bidding on government work, or those who work for government agencies and who make requests for bids, could all potentially be charged for a violation of government procurement rules. Anyone who is involved in causing false claims to be submitted to the government could also face liability, regardless of how large the individual’s role was in the fraud scheme.
Some of the many types of government procurement fraud which could lead to criminal prosecution or a civil case against individuals and companies include:
- Paying, receiving, offering, or soliciting bribes and kickbacks, including lavish gifts.
- Non-competitive contract awards, including paying too much for services, buying inappropriate items, or buying too many items.
- Qualifying unqualified businesses as vendors eligible to bid to provide goods or services.
- Accepting and paying for non-complaint services and/or low-quality non-complaint goods.
- Collusive bidding, in which groups of bidders agree to set up a system where each can win a contract with a high bid. This could involve dividing up who bids on contracts, or submitting high bids on a rotating basis.
- Abuse of change orders, which involves submitting low bids and then significantly raising profits by submitting change orders after contracts are awarded.
- Exclusion of qualified bidders.
- Failure to fulfill contract specifications, using lower-quality materials of offering less services than promised and billed for.
- Overbilling, including submitting inflated or duplicative invoices or billing for services which should not be paid for under the contract.
These are some of many examples of procurement fraud. Procurement fraud can be defined broadly to include any misleading statements or material omissions made in connection with government contracts for products or services.
Penalties for Procurement Fraud
Penalties for government procurement fraud are very serious. Even if you are not convicted of a crime, you could lose a civil lawsuit brought against you. A plaintiff in a civil lawsuit has a lower burden of proof than in a criminal case, and a case could be brought by government officials or even by private individuals who become aware of participation in a fraud scheme.
The Federal False Claims Act (FCA) makes it easy for individuals to file a Qui Tam lawsuit if they identify signs of fraud, and individual plaintiffs who file a case could be rewarded with up to 30 percent of the amount of money recovered. When penalties include triple damages (up to three times the amount obtained through fraud) plus up to $11,000 for each act of fraud against the government, significant sums of money are at stake.
Criminal consequences, including state or federal prosecution and the potential for jail time and a permanent criminal record, could also result. There are a variety of state and federal statutes aimed at preventing kickbacks, bribery, or the making of false claims and false statements to the government, and defendants could face multiple criminal charges for acts of fraud in procurement.
How a NYC Defense Lawyer Helps During a Procurement Fraud Investigation
If you are under investigation by state or federal authorities, you need to be prepared to respond aggressively and strategically. Both criminal and civil penalties could destroy your company or your personal financial stability, while the risk of ending up in jail could have a significant adverse impact on your future. Don’t leave your case to chance- contact Bukh Law Firm, PLLC today to speak with a New York City criminal defense lawyer who will help you to develop a comprehensive, strategic response to all of the fraud allegations against you.