The highlights from the week's whistleblower news:
In yet another sign of the growing importance whistleblower blows, Cornell Law School announced that it has launched a new course "on the rapidly expanding area of citizen-initiated whistleblower action." The course, titled "Whistleblower Law: Involving Private Citizens in Public Law Enforcement," is being taught by Law School Dean Stewart Schwab, and Neil Getnick, an attorney who has handled some of the country's largest whistleblower cases. "The course has been developed together with Claire M. Sylvia, a partner in the law firm of Phillips & Cohen LLP and author of the treatise The False Claims Act: Fraud Against the Government, with the further assistance of Kristin Amerling, president and executive director, and Cleveland Lawrence III, director of legal education, of the Taxpayers Against Fraud Education Fund."
Senator Chuck Grassley still is not pleased with the way in which the IRS is implementing the 2006 whistleblower improvements he authored. Sen. Grassley outlined his concerns in a letter to top IRS and Treasury Department officials this week, explaining his belief that the regulations proposed by the IRS "are likely to further concerns in the whistleblower community that the IRS and Treasury view whistleblowers with hostility." He urged the IRS to revisit the regulations and take into consideration substantive comments from whistleblowers.
Patrick Burns, a spokesperson for Taxpayers Against Fraud, sat for an entertaining interview with the Corporate Crime Reporter, during which he proposed getting rid of the term "white collar crime." Mr. Burns railed against the inequities associated with not treating all crime equally: "People that go to country clubs get a get out of jail card,” Burns said. “People who listen to country music get a jail cell with a concrete floor and steel bars." For more, click here.
Perhaps consistent with Mr. Burns' suggestion to hold corporate executives to a higher degree of accountability for corporate misdeeds, the Department of Justice announced this week that an Ohio District Court entered a permanent injunction against Ben Venue Laboratories Inc., an Ohio-based drug manufacturer, and three of the company's senior executives, George P. Doyle, president and chief executive officer, Kimberly A. Kellermann, vice president of operations, and Douglas A. Rich, vice president of quality operations. Ben Venue manufactures various sterile injectable drug products, including cancer medications. According to the FDA's complaint against Ben Venue, FDA inspections revealed ten deviations from current good manufacturing practices, including failures to prevent contamination of drugs that were purportedly sterile. The injunction entered against the company and its executives restricts the company from manufacturing and distributing certain drugs until the company completes a series of steps designed to ensure full compliance with the law. Good manufacturing practices continue to be a key area of FDA enforcement, and the subject of significant False Claims Act prosecutions.
Following other recent leadership changes at the SEC, the agency announced on Thursday that, effective February 8, 2013, "George S. Canellos, currently Deputy Director of the Division of Enforcement, has been named Acting Director." Mr. Canellos will replace, Robert S. Khuzami, the current Director of the Division of Enforcement, who is leaving the SEC on February 8.