Neal began his career as a lawyer, where he spent 10 years teaching around the globe, writing books and articles and thinking and speaking about legal practices.
He then returned to California to practice law and followed that up as a partner at two of the Big Four accounting and consulting companies where he worked for 15 years. Neal’s job was to analyze business practices, identify fraudulent activities, and testify in court as an expert.
During his work as a consultant, Neal worked on an engagement for the Federal Government as a testifying and real estate expert. There, he uncovered that the big consultancy firms were forming alliances with travel companies and in-turn receiving large rebates on travel expenditures used for client business. However, the firms were not passing the savings onto their clients. He knew he could not participate in such illegal activities. He brought this information to the attention of some “higher-ups” at the firms but nothing changed.
Knowing the law, Neal realized he had a False Claims Act case, so he hired counsel, filed disclosure statements and filed a series of False Claim Act Cases. This was brought to the attention of the government, and Neal then cooperated in the investigation. At that time, he discovered he had created what he describes as “an isolation problem” because of the court seal on his cases. He couldn’t talk about it to anyone. He continued working for the firm, meeting with Government investigators, and gathering all of the evidence he could, including interviewing various people. He even worked with the government investigators to interview senior management at the company.
The government conducted its own investigations. During this time, there was always the chance that the government would decline to proceed with the cases.
Neal’s cases were good, so the government did intervene and five cases were settled, recovering a total of $67.5 million in damages for the U.S. government.
At that point, he thought everything was great, but then the next problem was, what percentage is going to be given to Neal, the relator? The False Claims Act says that the relator is entitled to 15-25% of the reward, and he found that the government will do its best to reduce the amount given to the relator. Neal learned how important it is to have the confidence to continue to fight for what is right, including standing up against the federal government.
YEARS DEVOTED TO FALSE CLAIMS ACT CASES
Following the travel alliance cases, Neal had discovered, along with a friend of his working in the technology industry, that a similar alliance scheme was going on in that industry. Together they filed a total of eight cases against 32 defendants, which settled for a total of $309.7 million.
At that point, he thought everything was great, but he soon discovered there was a question of what percentage was going to be given to the relator, i.e. Neal? The False Claims Act says that the relator is entitled to 15-25% of the reward. However, the government was attempting to reduce or eliminate the amount going to Neal, the relator. Therefore, Neal hired appellate lawyers who successfully pursued his share of the recovery against the government. This experience taught him how important it is to have the confidence to continue to fight for what is right, including standing up against the federal government.
For Neal, the real reward has been to use the law to stop corruption. The reason qui tam cases work is not only due to the financial reward, but due to the public/private partnership formed, between the whistleblower who brings the case and the government. He also values the result of not only changing the companies’ practices upon which the cases were brought, but the fact that his actions have changed the practices of other corporations and deterred fraud on a global scale.
MILLION DOLLARS RECOVERED FOR THE U.S. GOVERNMENT (APPROX.)