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Bribery Case Involving $253 Million Settlement Illustrates Importance Of Whistleblowers

A Houston-based oil field services company recently agreed to pay the federal government $253 million to resolve allegations that the company bribed foreign officials to secure contracts. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the U.S. Department of Justice announced the fine against Weatherford International, according to the Houston Chronicle.

The SEC charged Weatherford International with violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), including bribing foreign officials and providing improper travel and entertainment in an effort to win contracts under the United Nations' Oil-for-Food program, the Houston Chronicle reported. Other violations including falsifying records in an effort to conceal payments and other transactions to countries subject to U.S. sanctions, including Cuba, Iran and Syria.

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Government fraud and corruption involving multi-million-dollar overseas contracts happens far more often than many people might realize, according to Houston whistleblower law firm Brewer & Pritchard. Such cases - and the laws designed to uncover such criminal activity - can be also extremely complicated. That's why many people contact an experienced whistleblower lawyer to help them handle such serious claims.

The Weatherford International case demonstrates the complexity of many government bribery cases. The company reportedly used code names to hide its dealings with Iran, according to the SEC investigation as reported by the Houston Chronicle. The company also improperly paid for trips to the 2006 World Cup for two officials from a state-owned Algerian company, a honeymoon for an official's daughter and a religious trip to Saudi Arabia for an official and his family, the Houston Chronicle reported.

Gathering evidence in government bribery and fraud cases takes great skill. Government investigators often rely on whistleblowers working within a company accused of committing such crimes. It takes tremendous courage to come forward as a whistleblower. People who report government corruption and fraud sometimes put their job and safety at risk. That's why so many people turn to whistleblower attorneys familiar with such complicated cases. A whistleblower lawyer can explain the legal options available and the rights granted to whistleblowers. The federal laws created to protect the rights of whistleblowers include:

  • Whistleblower Protection Act - Created in 1989, this federal law protects whistleblowers that work for the government and take action to stop corrupt government practices or illegal conduct
  • Foreign Corrupt Practices Act - Federal law covering bribery allegations involving government officials or private companies. This wide-ranging law can also include foreign companies doing business in the United States.
  • False Claims Act - This 1863 federal law rewards people who report government fraud and other criminal activity. The False Claims Act has been revised many times since then, but the guiding principle remains the same. This law exists to protect people who speak out against illegal activity at the expense of our government. In addition, the False Claims Act includes provisions for financially compensating whistleblowers for exposing fraud or corruption.
  • Qui Tam Law - The basic premise of qui tam law revolves around financially rewarding people who report fraud, primarily involving taxpayer money used to pay for goods or services. These laws have existed for hundreds of years.

If you suspect government fraud and are considering taking legal action, contact Houston whistleblower law firm Brewer & Pritchard at (800) 445-8710.