Florida Contractor Settles Qui Tam Claim, Whistleblower Exposes COVID-19 Fraud
According to a report from CBS Tampa Bay, a Florida company will pay $30,000 to resolve a False Claims Act lawsuit. Sextant Marine Consulting LLC—an HVAC contractor based in Doral, Florida—is facing sanctions for obtaining an improper duplicative loan under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). In this article, our Florida COVID-19 fraud attorneys provide an overview of the False Claims Act settlement and the award issued to the qui tam whistleblower who helped expose the fraud.
Allegations: A Florida Company Took an Improper, Duplicative PPP Loan
In March of 2020, then President Donald Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act into law. A comprehensive COVID-19 relief package, the CARES Act included the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The program allowed qualifying businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to seek a forgivable loan to cover certain expenses, including payroll costs. PPP loans were an important part of the federal government’s COVID-19 economic package.
In an effort to expedite funding the Small Business Administration (SBA) relied on private lenders to help disburse PPP funds. Sextant Marine Consulting LLC allegedly applied for two PPP loans under the CARES Act. Companies are not permitted to take duplicative forgivable loans under the COVID-19 relief program. CBS Tampa Bay reports that Sextant Marine Consulting repaid the full amount of the second loan and paid an additional $30,000 in damages to settle the FCA case.
Whistleblower Filed a Qui Tam Claim to Stop the COVID-19 Fraud
The False Claims Act is a federal law designed to prevent abuse of government funds (taxpayer money). An individual, business, or organization that defrauds a government program—such as the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)—can be held liable under the FCA. For a number of different reasons, it is often difficult for state and federal officials to discover fraud. The FCA contains qui tam provisions to allow whistleblowers to bring a claim on behalf of the government.
In this case, enforcement action came after a qui tam lawsuit was filed by a whistleblower. Acting as a private party, a man named J. Bryan Quesenberry brought a qui tam claim against Sextant Marine Consulting LLC for the alleged COVID-19 fraud. As enforcement action was successful, this whistleblower was issued an award valued at 15 percent of the total funds recovered by the federal government. Qui tam claims are notoriously complex. A False Claims Act lawyer can help.
Get Help From a Florida False Claims Act Lawyer for Immediate Help
At Guttman, Freidin & Celler, our Florida False Claims Act attorneys are diligent, results-driven advocates for whistleblowers. Our firm can help you bring a qui tam claim to stop COVID-19 fraud. If you are considering bringing a qui tam claim under the federal or state False Claims Act, our lawyers are more than ready to help. Contact us today for a free, fully confidential consultation. With a law office in Miami, we provide False Claims Act representation statewide and nationwide.