Leahy-Authored Provisions To Address Wartime Fraud Set To Become Law
A provision authored by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) to suspend the statute of limitations for prosecuting wartime contracting fraud will become law when the President signs a continuing resolution that includes the fiscal year 2009 defense appropriations bill, which was passed by the Senate Saturday.
The language, introduced by Leahy in April as the Wartime Enforcement of Fraud Act (WEFA), has received bipartisan support. The bill was reported by the Senate Judiciary Committee in July, and Leahy successfully worked to adopt the bill as an amendment to the defense appropriations bill earlier this year. The provisions will give the government the ability to prosecute cases of fraud during a time of war, and close a loophole in a World War II-era law that has prevented the government from seeking criminal prosecution for individuals and companies who have delivered defective products or overbilled for their services.
“With passage of this bill today, Congress has taken action, as it has in the past, to protect the American taxpayer and make sure the money spent to support the troops is not wasted by fraud and corruption,” said Leahy. “The President should now sign this bill to show the American people that we will do all we can to investigate and prosecute those who would undermine our troops and steal from the taxpayer during times of war.”
Closing the loophole in the 1942 law will allow the government to prosecute wartime fraud in Congressional-authorized conflicts, including those in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Leahy-authored provisions will:
- Suspend the statute of limitations for war contracting fraud when Congress has authorized the use of military force consistent with the War Powers Resolution, and apply current law suspending the statute of limitations to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
- Extend the statute of limitations from three to five years after the end of a war, consistent with the current statute of limitations for criminal offenses
- Mandate that the tolling of the statute of limitations period must be an official act of the president with notice to Congress, or a concurrent resolution of Congress
- Clarify that the term “war” includes Congressional authorizations for the use of military force consistent with the War Powers Resolution
Billions of dollars have been awarded to companies that failed to deliver satisfactory products in the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, including faulty ammunition and unsafe bullet proof vests, potentially endangering the lives of American troops. Leahy also added provisions of the Wartime Enforcement of Fraud Act in the National Defense Authorization Act. The funding bill and the Leahy-authored extension on the statute of limitations for wartime fraud will now be sent to the President for signature.
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