Anti-Kickback Act

The Anti-Kickback Act of 1986, 41 U.S.C. § 51 et seq., modernized and closed the loopholes of previous statutes applying to government contractors. The 1986 law attempts to make the anti-kickback statute a more useful prosecutorial tool by expanding the definition of prohibited conduct and by making the statute applicable to a broader range of persons involved in government subcontracting. Prosecutions under these statutes must establish the following:

  1. Prohibited conduct–the Act prohibits attempted as well as completed “kickbacks,” which include any “money, fee, commission, credit, gift, gratuity, thing of value, or compensation of any kind which is provided, directly or indirectly, to any prime contractor, prime contractor employee, subcontractor, or subcontractor employee“. The act also provides that the inclusion of kickback amounts in contract prices is prohibited conduct in itself.
  2. Purpose of kickback–The Act requires that the purpose of the kickback was for “improperly obtaining or rewarding favorable treatment in connection with a prime contract or in connection with a subcontract relating to a prime contract.” It is intended to embrace the full range of government contracting. Prior to 1986, the “kickback” was required to be for the inducement or acknowledgment of a subcontract.
  3. Covered class of “kickback” recipients–The Act prohibits “kickbacks” to prime contractors, prime contractor employees, subcontractors, and subcontractor employees. These terms are defined in the Act.
  4. Type of contract–The Act defines kickbacks to include payments under any government contract. Prior to this legislation, the statutes’ applicability was limited to negotiated contracts.
  5. Knowledge and willfulness–The Act requires one to knowingly and willfully engage in the prohibited conduct for the imposition of criminal sanctions.


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