Exxon Mobil Corp. has consented to pay an enormous amount to end the government’s claims that the company underpaid royalties for natural gas from federal land. In a whistleblower case filed by Harold Wright pursuant to the federal False Claims Act, Mobil Corp. was alleged to have “systematically underreported” the value of gas extracted from the land for over a decade from March of 1988 to November of 1999. Mobil was acquired by Exxon in December of 1999.
The False Claims Act is a federal statute that encourages private individuals with knowledge of fraud against the government to come forward and blow the whistle on such misconduct. The Qui Tam section of the Act provides for whistleblowers to receive a portion of the government’s recovery. In this case, the original whistleblower is deceased; thus, Wright’s heirs will receive his percentage of the government’s settlement.
For the full story, go to the Houston Chronicle.