It pays to be a whistleblower these days. Both the federal government and individual whistleblowers are reaping rewards from the False Claims Act (FCA). The government raked in a cool $3.03 billion in FCA recoveries in the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, 2011, according to a study published last week by law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.

Last year’s haul marked the second year in a row that the government pulled in more than $3 billion in FCA recoveries, and the third-largest recovery on record. Since 2009, the government has recovered more than $8.7 billion.

While 2011 was beneficial for governmental coffers, it was even better for FCA whistleblowers. Qui tam realtors earned more than $532 million in share awards in 2011, which is the highest yearly recovery to date. The haul was so good that it exceeded last year’s share awards by $140 million.

One of the reasons for the increase in money recovered for both parties is that whistleblowers initiated more new matters in 2011 than in any prior year. Qui tam realtors flagged 638 of the 762 new matters (84 percent), leading to $2.8 billion of the government’s total recovery for the year. According to the FCA, whistleblowers are eligible to receive up to 30 percent of any recovery.

In total, whistleblowers have initiated more than 7,800 actions since 1986, when statutory amendments expanded their rights and protections and increased the percentage of their potential recoveries.

For more, read Gibson Dunn’s full report.

Image source: DOJ “Fraud Statistics — Overview” (Dec. 7, 2011)