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Phillips & Cohen in the News - Experts on Whistleblower Cases

Phillips & Cohen's expertise with whistleblower cases - including those brought under the qui tam provisions oft he False Claims Act and claims filed with the Internal Revenue Service, Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commssion whistleblower reward programs -- is well recognized in the media. Below are excerpts from stories where Phillips & Cohen attorneys have been quoted about various whistleblower programs and whistleblower issues.

News articles about Phillips & Cohen's whistleblower cases are listed on a separate page.

"Whistleblowers Cash In On Financial Firms' Misdeeds," Investors.com, 3/31/14.

"The SEC is really encouraging them to file their submissions and assuring them that they will be vigorously investigated," said Eric Havian, a San Francisco-based lawyer who practices whistleblower law. "You're going to see a lot of financial fraud coming to light that had been buried for many years."

"Lawsuit brings to light secrecy statements required by KBR," The Washington Post, 2/19/14.

"Tim McCormack, a lawyer who specializes in whistleblower cases, said that he has seen numerous confidentiality agreements but that the one used by KBR is particularly stark because it threatens employees with termination and possible legal action if they speak out.

'This is mostly about trying to scare someone into not talking,' McCormack said. 'It's very effective to say you will be fired or sued. This is a very big company with lots of resources.'"

"The Perks of Being a Whistle-blower," Newsweek, 1/30/14.

"We have clients with whistle-blower claims for billions of dollars in unpaid taxes," not including penalties and interest, says Eric Havian, a lawyer at Phillips & Cohen in San Francisco. "The multinationals with offshore operations are the ones where you see some of the biggest tax scams."

"Walk, Don't Run - Experts Advise Prudence and Caution for Potential Whistleblowers," CFA Institute Magazine, March/April 2013.

"Do make sure that you really want to file a whistleblower claim. 'Once it's filed, it sets in motions something that you cannot stop,' says Erika Kelton, partner in the Washington, DC, law office of Phillips & Cohen. "It's important to thoroughly reflect on, and be prepared to do this and assess how long it will take, what to expect, how disruptive to your life this can be, and what risks you are taking.'"

"Tax Court Scrutinizes Whistleblower Office's Delayed Decision," Tax Analysts, 3/14/13.

"Erika A. Kelton of Phillips & Cohen LLP told Tax Analysts that the Insinga order is important because 'the Tax Court shows it is open to a more common sense approach than the IRS has often been willing to take -- i.e., considering whether there is a "de facto" rejection, rather than simply a formal "technical" rejection.' Also, the possibility of jurisdiction under the APA is encouraging because 'that could be very helpful for future challenges to agency delay and inaction,' she said."

"Government Joins Suit Against Armstrong," The New York Times, 2/22/13.

To win the case, the government must prove that it was damaged by the violation of the contract, said Eric R. Havian, a lawyer at Phillips & Cohen and an expert in False Claims Act cases.

"They have to say, look, the Postal Service didn't get what we bargained for, you gave us a black eye because of the doping, and that's a legitimate case," Havian said.

"DOJ Intervenes in Whistleblower Suit Against Lance Armstrong," Legal Times, 2/22/13.

"'The United States invests considerable resources in the investigation of cases, interviewing witnesses and reviewing documents, to consider the validity of the claim by the whistleblower,' said Colette Matzzie of the whistleblower firm Phillips & Cohen in Washington. 'It's a lengthy internal deliberative process for the government.' Matzzie said DOJ's intervention can be viewed as a validation of Landis' claims."

"California AG's false claims case vs S&P: secret route to issuers?" ThomsonReuters News & Insight - On the Case, 2/11/13.

"The unseen target of California's suit, according to whistle-blower lawyer Eric Havian of Phillips & Cohen, could be MBS and CDO issuers.

"Discovery in the state's case against S&P, Havian said, will likely turn up evidence of what banks knew about the ratings S&P supplied. 'If issuers knew the ratings were false and they sold securities to state pension funds, they would absolutely be liable,' he said. 'That's an easy FCA case.'"

"Erika Kelton on the Rise of SEC Whistleblower Cases," Corporate Crime Reporter, 2/5/13.

"Erika Kelton is a partner at Phillips & Cohen in Washington, D.C. She's a pro at bringing whistleblower cases.

"She has a couple of billion-dollar-plus False Claims Act qui tam cases under her belt . . . . But a significant amount of her caseload is now SEC/CFTC and tax cases."

"Floyd Landis whistleblower suit targets more than Lance Armstrong," The Washington Post, 1/17/13.

"False Claims Act whistleblower suits, which date from the Civil War era, are a mechanism for encouraging someone with information about fraud against the government - oftentimes an 'nsider' in a case of wrongdoing - to come forward, explains Peter Chatfield of Washington-based Phillips & Cohen, which specializes in such cases.http://articles.washingtonpost.com/images/pixel.gif

"The plaintiff's reward is a percentage of the money that's recovered - 15-25 percent if the U.S. Department of Justice joins the action and takes the lead role in the case, or 25-30 percent if the private plaintiff pursues the case without the government's help or resources, Chatfield said."

"Rajat's moment of truth - ex-Goldman Sachs honcho awaits sentencing," The Pioneer (India), 10/25/12.

"But the proposal for leniency for Gupta is not without its critics. Writing in Forbes magazine, Erika Kelton, a partner at Phillips & Cohen, the well-known law firm representing whistleblowers, argues that the proposal for community service, if accepted, could set 'a disturbing precedent.'

'Gupta's request would be laughable if it didn't indicate the mindset of Wall Street,' she writes, adding: 'When a deal goes bad, the thinking goes, let's try to talk our way out or write new rules, so the dealmakers can still come out on top or at least suffer minimal losses.'

"The Risks and Rewards Of Being A Whistle-blower," The Diane Rehm Show, 10/11/12. (Transcripts of interview with John R. Phillips. Listen to audio clip.)

"Well, we've been bringing these cases for over 26 years. We carefully screen... these cases and would not bring a case unless it was well grounded... And the government does join most of the cases that we bring."

"These companies aren't paying billions of dollars back because they made a simple mistake. They're paying it back because they knew they were doing it and they did it anyway because it was profitable for them. And they're being caught now and they are being deterred from doing it in the future."

"The Plaintiffs' Hot List," National Law Journal, 10/1/12.

". . . We asked our readers to nominate firms that have done exemplary, cutting edge work on the plaintiffs side. We looked for firms that scored at least one significant plaintiffs win between June 30, 2011 and July 1, 2012, and that possessed and impressive track record of wins within the past three to five years."

"With $425 million to spend, SEC starts whistleblower program with small reward that portends others," ACFS, 9/25/12.

"Coming one year after the SEC launched its program in August 2011, the first reward signals the SEC is acting quickly and aggressively to encourage whistleblowers, says Erika Kelton, an attorney specializing in representing whistleblowers at Phillips & Cohen, in Washington, D.C.

'This payout is critical to show whistleblowers that this is a robust, functioning program,' says Kelton, 'and it's operating very well. A one-year turnaround is exceptional.'"

"Report and be damned: an American whistleblower's story," The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, 8/28/12.

"Erika Kelton, an American attorney at Phillips & Cohen with significant experience, believes that the most important lesson from Asadi's case is that employees are not always better off voicing their complaints internally.

'If Asadi had reported first to the SEC, things could have been different,' Kelton said from Washington."

"For the most part, HCA did the right thing on Florida cardiology problems," Forbes, 8/7/12.

"Google 'whistleblower' and you'll see this website for Phillips and Cohen in Washington, which has won billions of dollars in suits, including a $3 billion suit against Glaxo this year over 'off-label' marketing of Advair, Wellbutrin and other drugs. The firm was also involved in litigation against HCA."

"'Til selfish gain no longer stain the banner of the free," International Bar Association, 8/1/12.

"According to Eric Havian, a whistleblower specialist with the San Francisco office of Phillips & Cohen, 'the entire securities industry is extremely frightened of new whistleblower legislation portion of Dodd-Frank, and its financial incentive to expose financial fraud.'"

"IRS sets timeline for action on whistleblower claims," Tax Notes Today, 6/22/12.

"Erika A. Kelton of Phillips & Cohen LLP said that Senate Finance Committee member Chuck Grassley, R. Iowa, deserves most of the credit for the change. 'His forceful advocacy for the IRS whistleblower program and his unrelenting criticism of the IRS for its failure to take advantage of such a promising enforcement program has yielded positive results,' she said."

"Wall Street fights new whistleblower law," CNBC, 2/11/11.

"But Eric Havian, a lawyer who represents whistleblowers, thinks the internal reporting argument is bogus. 'This is - this is the new corporate line to kill the SEC whistleblower law. And it's absolutely baseless.'"

"Religion, not money, often motivates corporate whistleblowers," CNBC, 2/11/11.

"And Wall Street's whistleblowers will likely come from the ranks of folks who deal with a company's most sensitive secrets.

'They're the people who are responsible for putting together the SEC reporting,' said Eric Havian, a lawyer who represents whistleblowers. 'The people who are responsible for monitoring to make sure there is no foreign bribery going on. The people who are responsible to make sure there's no money laundering, or that that you're not lying to the shareholders, you're not lying to the regulators.'"

"Companies prod SEC on whistleblower proposal," The Wall Street Journal, 2/11/11.

"Lawyers for whistleblowers counter that requiring internal reporting would kill the program by discouraging would-be tipsters from coming forward for fear of being identified.

'If mandated internal reporting were required it would be like turning off the tap,' of whistleblower tips, said Erika Kelton of law firm Phillips & Cohen LLP.'"

"Firms face sudden rush of whistleblower claims," Corporate Counsel, 9/9/10.

". . . Erika Kelton, partner at the plaintiffs' powerhouse Phillips & Cohen in Washington, D.C., agreed that the outpouring [of SEC whistleblowers] is huge. . . . Kelton was the lead attorney for a whistleblower suit against Pfizer Inc., which paid a record-setting $2.3 billion in mid-2009 to settle civil and criminal charges for using illegal sales tactics."

"Larger bounties spur surge in fraud tips," Wall Street Journal, 9/7/10.

"The SEC is offering some protections for informants. . . . These features, combined with the guaranteed minimum payout for whistle-blowers who qualify, are encouraging insiders to step forward, said Erika Kelton of Phillips & Cohen LLP."

"Health-Fraud Whistleblower Cases May Surge Because of Federal Law Overhaul," Bloomberg, 7/28/10.

"'Generally, the trend is up, up, up and more, more, more,' said Erika A. Kelton, a Washington-based attorney for Phillips & Cohen LLP. She represented John Kopchinski, a former Pfizer salesman, in a so-called qui tam, or whistleblower, lawsuit against the New York-based company that yielded the $1 billion settlement."

"Financial reform law includes big cash incentives for whistle-blowers," Los Angeles Times, 7/23/10.

"The new SEC whistleblower program 'is very significant and will have an immediate impact,' said Erika Kelton, a Washington lawyer who has represented whistle-blowers. 'It will motivate knowledgeable insiders to step forward and tell the enforcement agencies what they know. It is the secret weapon in this massive bill.'

"Whistleblowers motivated by integrity, study says," Main Justice, 5/13/10.

"Phillips & Cohen LLP's Erika Kelton, who has represented several whistleblowers, including a sales representative in an illegal marketing case against Pfizer Inc. that settled last year for $1.8 billion, said in a statement that the study tracked closely with her experience.

'People often turn to us after they have been fired or have raised their concerns with management but nothing changes. Typically, whistleblowers decide to file a 'qui tam' lawsuit as a last resort,' she said. 'Most are motivated more by exposing wrongdoing and stopping what are often harmful or dangerous practices than by any hope for a reward.'"

"Tattling for dollars; The growing ranks of IRS informants," Daily Finance, 5/8/10.

"Erika Kelton, a partner at Phillips & Cohen who represents whistleblowers, says the IRS has received information from informants that it wouldn't have obtained otherwise. She notes that over three years, thousands have cases have been filed, dozens of which are valued at over $100 million, adding, 'The IRS can only be at so many places at once.'"

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