Fraud, Corruption, Bribery, and the Civil Justice System
From overweight soccer magnates to government officials seeking fatter paychecks, fraud is an unfortunate part of the world we live in. Fortunately, our legal system provides some protection from those hurt by it.
Recent news has highlighted that even in the United States, we are not free from fraud, bribery, and corruption. Soccer magnate Chuck Blazer, who is famous for his beard, his heft, and his knowledge of soccer, has admitted to taking bribes in his capacity as a FIFA official. Closer to home in Jonesboro, Georgia—where this firm’s lawyer Jeb Butler used to work in the Clayton County District Attorney’s office—bribery has been uncovered in connection with the Georgia World Congress Center. And in Butler Tobin’s recent trial involving dangerous rear-tank Jeeps, our firm presented sworn evidence that top U.S. regulators were leaving their jobs where they were supposed to regulate automakers and going to work for the automakers—who of course pay them more money.
Fortunately, state and federal laws provide protections for victims of fraud and corruption. One well-known example is the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO. In the right circumstances, the state and federal versions of this law allow victims to hold corrupt wrongdoers responsible. See O.C.G.A. § 16-14-1 et seq.; 18 U.S.C. § 1961 et seq. Additionally, where fraud occurs, punitive damages are available—and in some circumstances, are not capped at $250,000. Golden Atlanta Site Development, Inc. v. R. Nahai & Sons, Inc., 299 Ga.App. 654 (2009). Another example is the whistleblower protections available to people who recognize that companies are defrauding the government. Such cases are often brought under the False Claims Act and called qui tam actions. See 31 U.S.C. § 3729.
The most powerful antidote to fraud, corruption, or bribery is the ability to expose the truth to a jury of twelve. That’s what we do at Butler Tobin. Sunlight, as they say, is the best disinfectant.