WASHINGTON (AP) _ The government recovered a record $1.6 billion from companies and individuals who defrauded federal agencies, the Justice Department said Wednesday.

The majority of the funds were recovered as a result of whistleblowers reporting fraud to the government.

Health care fraud cases accounted for $1.2 billion in recoveries, including cases in which health care companies cheated Medicare and Medicaid, two federal insurance programs.

The government also recovered $194 million from companies alleged to have unpaid royalities for oil and other minerals extracted from public lands.

Separately, a government contractor will pay $15 million to settle claims that it overcharged the Veteran Affairs Department.

Lifescan Inc. allegedly overcharged for certain medical supplies, the department said. The problem was disclosed to the government by Johnson & Johnson Inc., Lifescan's parent company.