Verizon has paid $93.5 million dollars to settle a whistleblower lawsuit that alleged the fiber optics leader overcharged the government for voice and data communication services.
The “qui tam” lawsuit was not made public until today when the government announced it had joined the case and reached a settlement, and alleged that Verizon had billed the government for “tax-like” surcharges that it wasn’t allowed to impose.
Colette Matzzie, a Washington, DC, attorney with Phillips & Cohen LLP, which represented the whistleblower was quoted as saying in a press release at PR Newswire today: “Verizon was not only charging the government for the costs associated with communication services but it also was pumping up its revenues by charging the government for Verizon’s own property taxes and other costs of doing business. Under federal law, Verizon was responsible for paying those costs, not the government.”
Filed in 2007, the lawsuit alleged the fraudulent billing began in 1999.
The False Claims Act allows private individuals to file qui tam lawsuits on behalf of the government against companies and individuals that commit fraud against the government. And, if the government joins the case, whistleblowers are entitled to between 15-25% of the amount recovered.
Phillips & Cohen is the most successful law firm representing whistleblowers in “qui tam” lawsuits and claims brought under the IRS, Securities and Exchange Commission and Commodity Futures Trading Commission whistleblower programs.