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Bank of America whistleblower Kyle Lagow will be receiving $14.5 million as part of a 2009 suit he brought against Countrywide Financial on behalf of the U.S. government. He accused Countrywide, which was bought by BofA in 2008, of inflating appraisals on government-insured loans.
Overall, Lagow's BofA whistleblower suit led to a $1 billion settlement between the bank and the Department of Justice. It also contributed to the $25 billion settlement reached between the major banks, federal and state governments earlier this year.
It seems strange that Kyle Lagow would receive part of the settlement, as the federal government was the defrauded entity. However, Lagow filed suit under the U.S. False Claims Act. This law allows individuals to bring suit on behalf of the U.S. government in specific situations.
The False Claims Act makes it illegal to knowingly submit, or cause another to submit, a false claim for government funds. This includes falsifying information in order to receive loans, grants and goods. But because it's difficult for the government to prosecute all fraud claims, Congress enacted a qui tam, or whistleblower, provision.
If you know your company is fraudulently receiving funds from the federal government, you can file a False Claims Act suit on the government's behalf. You're then entitled to somewhere between 15 and 25% of any recovered funds. The exact amount is decided by the court.
This is how BofA whistleblower Kyle Lagow earned himself part of the mortgage fraud settlements. But keep in mind that, in exchange for this money, he had to endure two years of negotiation and he lost his job.