2022 Whistleblower of the Year Recipient
During its 22nd Annual Conference, Taxpayers Against Fraud bestowed the Whistleblower of the Year award to Michael Bawduniak, for his efforts in United States ex rel. Bawduniak v. Biogen Idec, Inc. which resulted in the largest recovery in a non-intervened False Claims Act case in history, as well the largest relator share award in history of the False Claims Act.
The award recognizes a whistleblower of Taxpayers Against Fraud who achieved outstanding results, overcome especially challenging circumstances, and/or brought change to an industry thought their incredible efforts in the last year.
Below are photos from the award ceremony and more information about the accomplishments of Michael:
Michael’s Accomplishments in the Biogen Case
Michael Bawduniak was the sole relator in United States ex rel. Bawduniak v. Biogen Idec, Inc., which resulted in the largest recovery in a non-intervened False Claims Act case in history, as well the largest relator share award in history of the FCA. But TAF is not recognizing him merely because his case resulted in a sizable recovery for the United States and various states. TAF is recognizing him because for more than a decade he kept fighting, persevering under difficult circumstances, and setting an example for others.
Like many whistleblowers, Mike first tried to change corporate behavior from the inside. In 2009, having received instructions from senior marketing officials to engage in new speaker and consultant program tactics which clearly sought to hold or increase the market share of Biogen’s largest prescribers by paying them for consultation and speaking that the company did not need, Mike reported his kickback concerns to Biogen’s internal compliance department, and addressed them with other Biogen executives directly. Biogen did respond, but not in the way he hoped: Mike was demoted from his managerial role, and Biogen’s conduct, particularly with respect to regional consultant meetings, only escalated.
Mike struggled with the question of whether to file a False Claims Act for months. He feared the loss of his salary, stock options, career and the impact on his family that would likely occur if he was publicly disclosed as a whistleblower. Yet, while still uncertain as to whether he would actually file, Mike brought his concerns directly to the United States in November 2011. After telling his story to federal authorities and providing them with numerous documents that supported his contentions, Mike agreed to record phone calls and live conversations at the FBI’s request. He gathered evidence under their supervision for two months. Only after working with the federal investigators to gather evidence that supported his claims did Mike decide to file an FCA action. This was the first of two difficult decisions TAF thinks should be recognized.
The other difficult decision came more than three years later, when the United States informed the District Court that it would not intervene. The decision to maintain the action was just as difficult as the decision to file, especially in the face of a large discovery effort that required Mike and his lawyers, Greene LLP, to start from scratch. Mike held on, year after year. After more than 100 motions filed, including multiple motions to dismiss, bitter fights over Biogen’s efforts to shield compliance-related documents, and the company’s invasive discovery efforts aimed at Mike’s new employer, a settlement was reached only days before trial because of Mike’s resolve and perseverance.
There is no question that if Mike turned back, a very significant harm to the public would have gone unchecked and unpunished. TAF is honored to recognize his courage and determination to do what is right with the Whistleblower of the Year award.
Award Nomination Process
The Whistleblower of the Year Award and others are nominated by the general membership of TAF before the organization’s annual conference.
Once submitted, the TAF Conference & Member Education Committee deliberate and vote on award recipients.