The bill establishes the "Colorado False Claims Act" (the act). Pursuant to the act, a person is liable to the state or a political subdivision of the state for a civil penalty if the person commits, conspires to commit, or aids and abets the commission of any of the following (collectively, "false claims"):
- Knowingly presenting, or causing to be presented, a false or fraudulent claim for payment or approval;
- Knowingly making, using, or causing to be made or used a false record or statement material to a false or fraudulent claim;
- Having possession, custody, or control of property or money used, or to be used, by the state or a political subdivision and knowingly delivering, or causing to be delivered, less than all of the money or property;
- Authorizing the making or delivery of a document certifying receipt of property used, or to be used, by the state or a political subdivision and, with the intent to defraud the state or political subdivision, making or delivering the receipt without completely knowing that the information on the receipt is true;
- Knowingly buying, or receiving as a pledge of an obligation or debt, public property from an officer or employee of the state or a political subdivision who lawfully may not sell or pledge the property;
- Knowingly making, using, or causing to be made or used a false record or statement material to an obligation to pay or transmit money or property to the state or political subdivision, or knowingly concealing or knowingly and improperly avoiding or decreasing an obligation to pay or transmit money or property to the state or political subdivision; or
- Knowingly making, using, or causing to be made or used, a false record or statement material to a claim to unemployment insurance benefits when the person has wrongfully recovered unemployment insurance benefits from the state of more than $15,000 in a calendar year.
A person who makes a false claim is liable to the state or a political subdivision for
the same amount provided in the federal "False Claims Act", as adjusted for inflation, a civil penalty of $11,800 to $23,600 per violation, plus 3 times the amount of the damages sustained by the state or political subdivision. and A court may assess a reduced penalty if the person who makes a false claim furnishes to investigators all the information the person knows about the violation within 30 days after first learning of a potential violation, the person did not know about the investigation when the person furnished the information, and the person fully cooperated with the investigation. If the person furnished the information prior to an action being filed, the person is subject to a civil penalty of $5,900 to $11,800 per violation, plus 1.5 times the amount of the damages. If the person furnished the information while a pending action was under seal, the person is subject to a civil penalty of $7,800 to $15,700 per violation, plus 2 times the amount of the damages. The civil penalty range amounts for a violation are annually adjusted for inflation. A person who makes a false claim is also liable for the costs incurred for the investigation and prosecution of the false claim.
The bill requires the attorney general or a local prosecutor to investigate false claims. The attorney general, prosecuting authority of a political subdivision, or a private person
individual (relator) may bring a civil action against a person who made a false claim. The bill permits the attorney general or prosecuting authority of a political subdivision to intervene in an action brought by a relator private person . A relator private person who brings a false claims action may be awarded up to 30% of the proceeds from a false claims the action based on the extent the relator private person contributed to the investigation and prosecution of the false claim. If the relator private person is an employee of the state or political subdivision and learns information about the false claim in the course of the relator's person's work, the court will award that amount to the relator's person's employer.
The bill authorizes the state auditor to share information about potential false claims with the attorney general and a political subdivision.
- Brought against a serving member of the general assembly, a member of the state judiciary, an executive director of a state agency, or an elected official in the executive branch of the state of Colorado acting in the member's , executive director's, or official's official capacity; or
- Based on the same allegations or transactions that are the subject of a different civil or administrative proceeding.
The bill prohibits retaliatory action against an individual because of the individual's efforts in furtherance of investigating, prosecuting, or stopping false claims. A court hearing a false claims action may hear a claim for retaliation against the individual.
The bill sets forth the process for paying to a political subdivision any proceeds recovered in a false claims action retained by the state that are attributable to the political subdivision.
The bill requires the attorney general to annually submit a report to specified committees of reference about false claims actions during the previous fiscal year.
(Note: Italicized words indicate new material added to the original summary; dashes through words indicate deletions from the original summary.)
(Note: This summary applies to the reengrossed version of this bill as introduced in the second house.)