Montana False Claims Act allows whistleblowers to report fraud and receive 15-30% of the proceeds in a successful qui tam action
A person can bring a civil action for a violation of Montana False Claims Act on behalf of the person and the governmental entity, known as a qui tam action. In the event of a successful qui tam action, the whistleblower is entitled to receive 15-30% of the proceeds recovered in the action or in settlement of the claim; plus an amount for reasonable case expenses, attorney fees and costs.
Under the statute, whistleblowers are protected against retaliation for reporting fraud and engaging in protected activity.
The Montana False Claims Act—Title 17, Chapter 8, Part 4, Sections 1-16—imposes liability on any person who:
- knowingly presents or causes to be presented a false or fraudulent claim for payment or approval;
- knowingly makes, uses, or causes to be made or used a false record or statement material to a false or fraudulent claim;
- conspires to commit a violation of this subsection;
- has possession, custody, or control of public property or money used or to be used by the governmental entity and knowingly delivers or causes to be delivered less than all of the property or money;
- is authorized to make or deliver a document certifying receipt of property used or to be used by the governmental entity and, with the intent to defraud the governmental entity or to willfully conceal the property, makes or delivers a receipt without completely knowing that the information on the receipt is true;
- knowingly buys or receives as a pledge of an obligation or debt public property of the governmental entity from any person who may not lawfully sell or pledge the property;
- knowingly makes, uses, or causes to be made or used a false record or statement material to an obligation to pay or transmit money or property to a governmental entity or knowingly conceals or knowingly and improperly avoids or decreases an obligation to pay or transmit money or property to a governmental entity; or
- as a beneficiary of an inadvertent submission of a false or fraudulent claim to the governmental entity, subsequently discovers the falsity of the claim or that the claim is fraudulent and fails to disclose the false or fraudulent claim to the governmental entity within a reasonable time after discovery of the false or fraudulent claim.
Violators are liable to the state for a civil penalty of $5,500 – $11,000 for each act, plus 2-3 times the amount of damages that a governmental entity sustains.