California clinic chain illegally fired CFO whistleblower, HHS alleges

Federal investigators alleged that Clinicas del Camino Real — a 16-location clinic chain headquartered in Camarillo, Calif. — illegally terminated its former CFO in an act of retaliation in 2021, the Ventura County Star reported Sept. 15.

HHS investigators alleged that former CFO Christina Velasco was fired after she complained to company leaders that Clinicas' board violated financial guidelines, including bypassing the bidding process and awarding contracts to friends and colleagues, according to the report. Ms. Velasco served as CFO of Clinicas for more than 20 years. 

HHS' Office of Inspector General submitted the report to Xavier Becerra, the agency's secretary, who will determine if whistleblower retaliation happened and action against Clinicas should be taken, according to the Ventura County Star. The report recommended that the clinic chain undergo whistleblower protection training and provide Ms. Velasco back pay for the last two years. 

"We do not accept any allegations of Clinicas wronging contained in this report, which has not yet been adopted or acted upon by the agency itself," Gagan Pawar, MD, family medicine specialist and Clinicas CEO, told the publication. 

Becker's has reached out to Clinicas for further comment on the allegations.

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