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Top 10 Whistleblower Settlements of 2012

Date Published
Apr 22, 2013

1.  GlaxoSmithKline – $3 billion
In 2012, the largest health care fraud settlement in U.S. history, as well as the largest payment ever by a drug company, was announced. Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline agreed to a $3 billion settlement to resolve both criminal and civil allegations surrounding its promotion of prescription drugs, its failure to report safety data about some of its drugs, and its false drug reporting practices. The numerous whistleblowers in this case could receive anywhere between 15% and 25% of the recovery.

2.  Abbott – $1.5 billion
In May of 2012, the Department of Justice also announced the second largest payment it will have ever received from a drug company. Abbott Laboratories Inc. agreed to pay $1.5 billion in order to resolve criminal and civil allegations surrounding the company’s off-label marketing of Depakote. The four whistleblowers who brought the civil cases against Abbott will receive an $84 million share of the settlements.

3.  Bank of America/Countrywide – $1 billion
Bank of America agreed to a $1 billion settlement with the government. This is the largest ever False Claims Act settlement relating to mortgage fraud. Bank of America, Countrywide Financial Corporation, and other Countrywide subsidiaries had been under investigation since 2009 and were accused of mortgage origination and underwriting fraud. The whistleblower in this case was Kyle Lagow, an employee of one of Countrywide’s contractors.

4.  Pfizer – $491 million
Pfizer announced a $491 million charge to settle a case initially filed against Wyeth (a drug company acquired by Pfizer in 2009). Wyeth was accused of paying kickbacks and using off-label marketing for its organ transplant rejection drug, Rapamune. The two whistleblowers in this case were former Wyeth salespeople.

5.  Actavis – $202 million
Actavis Group Hf, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors, agreed to pay $202.6 million to settle allegations in numerous False Claims Act lawsuits that the company reported inflated prices of its drugs, causing the US and four state governments to overpay. Whistleblower Ven-A-Care of the Florida Keys Inc. received $15.6 million as its relators’ share of the settlements.

6.  McKesson – $190 million
The Department of Justice announced a settlement it reached with McKesson Corporation, a large drug wholesaler, for over $190 million to resolve accusations that the company inflated pricing information for numerous prescription drugs it sold, resulting in Medicaid overpaying for those drugs. McKesson allegedly reported inflated pricing data to First DataBank, a publisher of drug prices that are used by most state Medicaid programs, causing the average wholesale price for these drugs to be significantly higher than they should have been.

7.  Citigroup – $158 million
Citigroup agreed to pay over $158 million to settle claims that the company’s mortgage unit knowingly and actively approved federally backed home loans for unqualified applicants, and then falsified information regarding these loans to the government. Sherry Hunt was a quality assurance manager in the company’s Missouri office. She received $31 million from the settlement as her reward under the False Claims Act for blowing the whistle on the company.

8.  Johnson & Johnson – $158 million
One week after the case went to trial in Texas, Johnson & Johnson agreed to a $158 million settlement to resolve False Claims Act allegations that the company engaged in off-label marketing of Risperdal, an antipsychotic. The off-label marketing involved attempts to sell the drug for uses in children and young adults, even though such uses had not been FDA approved. This is one of many settlements that the company has reached with various state and federal government agencies surrounding the marketing of Risperdal. Allen Jones, the whistleblower in this case, was a Pennsylvania state investigator who uncovered the fraud.

9. IRS Whistleblower – $104 million
In September of 2012, the IRS announced the largest ever whistleblower payment made by the agency. In return for information on his former employer UBS (one of the largest banks in Switzerland), Bradley Birkenfeld was awarded a $104 million service award. Because of the information Mr. Birkenfeld provided to the IRS Whistleblower office, the government recovered over $5.7 billion.

10. First SEC Whistleblower Award – $50,000
This year, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission made its first whistleblower award under the Dodd-Frank program. The program was established in 2011 to incentivize whistleblowers to disclose securities fraud and other violations of securities laws to the SEC. The details of the case are still under seal, but the whistleblower was awarded $50,000, and the court ordered over $1 million in sanctions against the defendants. While not a significant amount, the award has historical significance as the first made under the SEC’s whistleblower program.


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