THE Justice Department said it pulled in more than a quarter-billion dollars in judgments and settlements during the past year from companies that defrauded the government. The $257 million collected by the government in fiscal 1990 includes 13 cases involving recoveries of $5 million or more, pushing the total past 1989's figure of $225 million.
Fraud directed at the Defense Department made up a large part of the cases, including a $34 million settlement last December in a case brought against a bid-rigging cartel in Japan.
Attorney General Dick Thornburgh said the steady increase over the past four years in fraud recoveries is due in part to 1986 amendments to the False Claims Act that allowed the government to recover triple damages. The amendments also clarified proof requirements in such cases.
The amendments also liberalized the False Claims Act to make it easier for private citizens to bring fraud suits on behalf of the government. Of the $70 million the government has recovered, $9 million went to the individuals who filed the original actions.