Suppose you are a large investment fund that just loaned money to a company. Like many large lenders, you secured the loan with the company’s equipment as collateral. But unfortunately, the company missed an interest payment and defaulted under the terms of its notes. What’s worse, it subsequently filed for bankruptcy.
Under the False Claims Act (FCA), blowing the whistle can pay—and it can sometimes pay a lot. A successful whistleblower, even one who helped submit false claims to the government, can earn millions for turning their coconspirators in.
On February 23, 2017, two titans of Silicon Valley went to war in federal court: Google filed a lawsuit against Uber, accusing it of using intellectual property allegedly stolen by one of the lead engineers on Waymo, Google’s self-driving automotive subsidiary. Specifically, Google alleged that Anthony Levandowski had misappropriated Google’s intellectual property before departing (along with other Google engineers) to found Otto, a self-driving car startup subsequently acquired by Uber for $680 million.