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Fraud Doesn’t Fly: Airline Company to Pay $26.8 Million to Resolve False Claims Act case brought by Corporate Whistleblower

MAY 7, 2024. Hahn Air Lines GmbH, a German company with U.S. operations based in Minnesota under Hahn Air USA Inc. (collectively Hahn Air), will pay $26.8 million to resolve False Claims Act allegations. These claims stem from Hahn Air’s failure to pay specific travel fees owed to the United States from commercial flights, which were brought to light by a corporate whistleblower that received a reward for its efforts.

Hahn Air is a private commercial travel company that offers an electronic ticketing system that works with travel agencies worldwide to issue airline tickets according to agreements that Hahn Air was party to, alongside commercial airlines across the globe. Hahn Air is required to collect specific travel fees and submit them to the United States. However, from 2012 to 2018, Hahn Air allegedly knew that it was required to pay these fees collected from customers purchasing Hahn Air tickets, yet did not do so. Fees improperly withheld from the United States include Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and Agricultural Quarantine Inspection User fees from the Department of Agriculture; Customs User Fees and Immigration User Fees from Customs and Border Protection; Passenger Civil Aviation Security Service Fees from the Transportation Security Administration.

The U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia had strong words for Hahn Air, stating that “Companies cannot pocket, for their own benefit, government taxes and fees that they collect from their customers … This settlement shows that companies that intentionally do so will face stiff penalties.”

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division, shared a similar sentiment, saying “Companies that benefit from air travel in the United States must pay their fair share of the costs associated with that such travel … Today’s settlement demonstrates that we will protect the taxpayers by ensuring that those who are obligated to pay money to the United States, whether in the form of travel fees or other types of payments, are held accountable for what they owe.”

The settlement was reached through a qui tam case brought by a corporate whistleblower, MGSNOVA Advisory, LLC. The whistleblower will receive $4.8 million for sharing original information with the Department of Justice that led to its intervention.

The False Claims Act is the federal government’s enforcement tool to ensure that taxpayer dollars and any fees due to the government go to their intended destinations. Whistleblowers who report fraud against the government via a qui tam lawsuit can earn a share of 15-25% of the government’s recovery.

If you would like to report government contracting or customs fees fraud, you can contact attorneys at Tycko & Zavareei LLP.  Eva Gunasekera and Renée Brooker are former officials of the United States Department of Justice and prosecuted whistleblower cases under the False Claims Act. Renée served as Assistant Director at the United States Department of Justice, the office that supervises False Claims Act cases in all 94 United States District Courts. Eva was the Senior Counsel for Health Care Fraud. Eva and Renée now represent whistleblowers. For a free consultation, you can contact Renée at[email protected] (tel.: 202-417-3664) or contact Eva Gunasekera at [email protected]. You can also go to Tycko & Zavareei LLP’s website for whistleblowers to learn more at

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