DECEMBER 30, 2003
10:00 AM
CONTACT:  Corporate Crime Reporter
Russell Mokhiber 202 737 1680
Death Penalty Should be Applied to Corporations that Defraud Government Report Shows

WASHINGTON - December 30 - The death penalty should be applied to corporations convicted of defrauding the federal government, according to a report released today by the Corporate Crime Reporter. The report ranks the top 100 False Claims Act settlements by amount of the settlement. It also lists the whistleblower's share of the settlement - if known. (The report can be found, in its entirety, at

The report calls on federal officials to seriously consider applying the corporate death penalty to companies convicted of defrauding the federal government. "The federal government has the authority to prohibit corporations convicted of serious crimes from doing business with the federal government," said Russell Mokhiber, editor of the Corporate Crime Reporter, a weekly newsletter based in Washington, D.C. "This debarment or exclusion authority is considered the equivalent of the death penalty, because for major health care corporations and defense corporations which rely on federal contracts, denying them federal contracts would effectively put them out of business."

The top 100 settlements ranged from a $731 million settlement in December 2000 with the Tennessee-based health care giant HCA to a $13 million settlement with each of three companies tied for the 100th spot - Kerr-McGee, FMC and First Health Services.

The qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act allow private individuals to sue companies that defraud the federal government and recover damages and penalties on the government's behalf. Whistleblowers are entitled to 15 percent to 25 percent of the funds the government recovers as a result of the lawsuit when the government joins the case. In each of the top 100 cases profiled in the report, whistleblowers raked in more than $1 million.

Fifty-six of the top 100 false claims settlements were with health care corporations, while 23 were with defense contractors. Eight of the top ten settlements involved criminal plea agreements by the companies. The top 100 recoveries brought in a total of $8.2 billion - more than 65 percent of the $12 billion recovered in total under the False Claims Act since it was amended in 1986. The top two settlements were with HCA, the Tennessee based health care corporation - for $731 million in December 2000 and for $631 million in June 2003. Rounding out the top five settlements were TAP Pharmaceuticals for $559 million in October 2001, Abbott Labs for $400 million in July 2003, and Fresenius Medical Care for $385 million in January 2000.