With great crises comes great compliance risk. The COVID-19 pandemic is no exception. Signed into law just recently, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) will make available an initial $2.2 trillion worth of government funds to mitigate the economic effects of COVID-19.

Former crises, such as Hurricane Katrina, teach us that when the dust begins to settle, and probably sooner, government enforcement actors will aggressively search for fraud in the form of any misrepresentations made to the government to receive these funds, invoking the federal False Claims Act (FCA) and seeking treble damages, fines, and criminal referrals where appropriate. Private lawyers and bounty hunters will be watching closely as well, with many of them seeking opportunities to cash in on a bounty as a whistleblower. In particular, all companies and individuals submitting information to the government in connection with getting any type of claim paid (from a government contract to a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan to a bill for medical services) will face enhanced compliance risk in connection with FCA claims.

Continue Reading In Coronavirus-Recovery, Haste Makes . . . Fraud, Waste, and Abuse? Managing False Claims Act Compliance Risk in the COVID-19 Crisis

On March 30, the United States District Courts for the Eastern District of Louisiana and the Middle District of Louisiana issued orders to clarify the proper use of video and telephone conferencing for certain criminal matters under the CARES Act’s authorizations for these conferences during the COVID-19 emergency. All video and telephone conference hearings or events require the consent of the defendant or the juvenile after consultation with counsel.

The courts set one standard to determine whether a video or telephone conference may be appropriate for pretrial, probation, and juvenile proceedings; and another, more onerous standard for felony pleas and sentencings.Continue Reading Louisiana District Courts Clarify Use of Video and Teleconference