Attorney General Tong Testifies in Support of "An Act Concerning False Claims and Other Prohibited Acts"(Hartford, CT) – Attorney General William Tong testified today before the Judiciary Committee in support of Senate Bill No. 426: An Act Concerning False Claims and Other Prohibited Acts. The legislation seeks to expand the scope of Connecticut’s False Claims Act by removing provisions that limit application of these statutes to State-administered health or human services programs. The legislation would allow the Office of the Attorney General to pursue fraud and abuse of tax dollars anywhere in State government, while also protecting and encouraging those who step forward to report fraud and abuse in any State spending.
The legislation would enable the Office of the Attorney General to summon witnesses and require the production of documents for the purpose of an investigation. In those cases where the investigation establishes a solid factual and legal foundation for a False Claims Act violation, it would enable recovery of the costs of the investigation and prosecution, three times the amount of damages sustained by the State, and civil penalties.
“More than one hundred different agencies, offices, and quasi-public agencies spend tax dollars on behalf of the government of the State of Connecticut. The current Connecticut False Claims Act covers programs at just nine agencies. This leaves billions of tax dollars vulnerable to fraud and abuse in programs administered at all the other State agencies, including the state departments of Transportation and Administrative Services where spending is about to quickly and substantially increase as a result of Connecticut’s $5.38 billion share of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act,” Attorney General Tong states in his written testimony.
The federal False Claims Act, as well as the majority of other states’ False Claims Acts, establish liability for anyone who submits a “false or fraudulent” claim for payment to the government regardless of the agency or program paying the claim. A majority of states, including New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, and Vermont all have broad state False Claims Acts resembling the federal law. In stark contrast, the Connecticut False Claims Act only covers fraud occurring in a “State-administered health or human services program.”
His testimony provides examples from recent False Claims Act cases in Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey involving businesses:
• charging a state for N95 masks needed for the pandemic that were never provided,
• delivering substandard fuel that clogged heating systems in state buildings,
• selling defective software for a state’s security cameras,
• obtaining contracts by faking compliance with state diversity requirements or
misrepresenting the wages paid to workers,
• delivering unreliable environmental testing results,
• overstating bus trips made,
• concealing late deliveries to avoid paying refunds,
• falsely certifying the safety and substantial completion of the “Big Dig” tunnel that later collapsed, and
• delivering hand sanitizer with no alcohol to school children in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Click here for Attorney General Tong’s full written testimony.
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