FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, January 7, 2013
For Information Contact:
U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia Secures
Over $2 Billion in Financial Recoveries During Three-Year Period
- Total Includes $536.5 Million Generated in Two Recent Agreements -
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia has collected more than $1.7 billion in criminal and civil actions and asset forfeitures over the past three fiscal years, and has reached agreements in two cases that are expected to generate another $536.5 million in the current fiscal year, U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. announced today.
The office collected more than $200 million in criminal and civil actions and asset forfeitures during the most recent fiscal year, according to statistics released today.
The totals for Fiscal Year 2012 include $139.8 million collected in criminal actions and $51.1 million in civil actions. In addition, approximately $16.6 million was collected in criminal and civil asset forfeiture actions.
The Fiscal 2012 success follows the collection of more than $1 billion in Fiscal 2010 and $500 million in Fiscal 2011. The projected collections in Fiscal 2013 include $536.5 million in forfeiture payments from two banks that reached settlements with the government for illegally moving money through the U.S. financial system on behalf of sanctioned entities.
“In the District of Columbia, our commitment to taxpayers and the victims of crime has yielded more than $2 billion in the past few years,” said U.S. Attorney Machen. “This success is the result of aggressive use of powerful statutory tools to deprive criminals and fraudsters of their ill-gotten gains. Making financial recovery a top enforcement priority deters misconduct, restores victims, and protects the public fisc. As demonstrated by the $500 million we have already generated this year, we have no plans to slow down the pace of recovery.
The U.S. Attorneys offices, along with the department’s litigating divisions, are responsible for enforcing and collecting criminal and civil debts owed to the United States and criminal debts owed to federal crime victims. In the District of Columbia, the Financial Litigation Unit in the Civil Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office aggressively handles these responsibilities.
Nationwide, U.S. Attorneys’ offices collected $13.1 billion in criminal and civil actions during FY 2012, more than doubling the $6.5 billion collected in FY 2011. A portion of this amount, $5.3 billion, was collected in shared cases in which one or more U.S. Attorneys’ offices or department litigating divisions were also involved. The $13.1 billion represents more than six times the appropriated budget of the combined 94 U.S. Attorneys’ offices for FY 2012.
Additionally, the U.S. Attorneys’ offices nationwide, working with partner agencies and divisions, collected $4.389 billion in asset forfeiture actions in FY 2012.
Collections in Forfeiture Cases
Since taking office in February 2010, U.S. Attorney Machen has emphasized the importance of asset forfeiture to fight crime and criminal organizations and to seek justice for victims. Asset forfeiture is a powerful tool that can deprive criminals and criminal organizations of illegal proceeds and instrumentalities of crimes, recover property that may be used to compensate victims, and deter crime. Federal law provides authority to seize and forfeit the proceeds of virtually all serious federal offenses. Forfeited assets are deposited into the Department of Justice Asset Forfeiture Fund and Department of Treasury Asset Forfeiture Fund and are used to restore funds to crime victims and for a variety of law enforcement purposes.
In one of the District of Columbia’s more noteworthy cases, nearly $3 million was deposited during Fiscal 2012 in a case involving bribery and kickbacks tied to contracts issued through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Department of the Army. A total of 12 people have now pled guilty to charges, including two former managers from the Army Corps of Engineers and a number of business officials. In the overall investigation, to date, the United States has seized for forfeiture or recovered approximately $7.5 million in bank account funds, cash, and repayments, 19 real properties, eight cars, and multiple pieces of fine jewelry.
In a second case, nearly $1.9 million was deposited following the prosecution of participants in a scheme to illegally export computer-related goods, worth millions of dollars, from the United States to Iran through the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Under the terms of their guilty pleas and related civil settlements with the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) and the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, Massoud Habibion and his company, Online Micro LLC agreed to forfeiture of $1.9 million seized from Online Micro’s bank accounts by ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
The projected Fiscal 2013 payments include $309.5 million due from ING Bank N.V., a financial institution that admitted in June 2012 to conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and the Trading with the Enemy Act by illegally moving billions of dollars through the U.S. financial system on behalf of sanctioned Cuban and Iranian entities. They also include $227 million in forfeiture payments from Standard Chartered Bank, which admitted this month to conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act by illegally moving millions of dollars through the U.S. financial system on behalf of sanctioned Iranian, Sudanese, Libyan and Burmese entities.
Collections in Criminal Actions
The U.S. Attorneys= offices, along with the department’s litigating divisions, are responsible for enforcing and collecting criminal and civil debts owed to the United States and criminal debts owed to federal crime victims. In the District of Columbia, the Financial Litigation Unit in the Civil Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office aggressively handles these responsibilities.
Collections in criminal actions include restitution, criminal fines, and felony assessments. The law requires defendants to pay restitution to victims of certain federal crimes who have suffered a physical injury or financial loss. While restitution is paid directly to the victim, criminal fines and felony assessments are paid to the Department of Justice=s Crime Victims= Fund, which distributes the money to state victim compensation and victim assistance programs.
The $139.8 million collected in criminal actions by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia includes some significant amounts generated by cases handled primarily by the Department of Justice’s litigating divisions. The U.S. Attorney’s Office plays an important follow-up role in these cases by collecting this money.
Collections in Civil Actions
The $51.1 million in civil collections include more than $47 million from Harbert Corporation and related entities to settle allegations that they submitted false claims, and caused others to submit false claims, to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The settlement resolved claims under the False Claims Act that the Harbert entities conspired to rig the bids on a USAID-funded construction contract that was bid and performed in Cairo, Egypt, in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Harbert International Inc. was part of a joint venture that bid on, and was ultimately awarded, Contract 20A to build a sewer system.
The amount also included $737,474 paid by Euclid of Virginia, Inc., which, along with two of its officers, and related entities, agreed in 2011 to pay the United States $3.2 million to resolve allegations involving the company’s ownership and operation of petroleum underground storage tanks. The settlement in that case resolved a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, seeking to collect precedent-setting civil penalties that were imposed against Euclid of Virginia, Inc. by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Nationally, Department of Justice statistics indicate that the total amount collected in criminal actions totaled $3.035 billion in restitution, criminal fines, and felony assessments.
The statistics also indicate that $10.12 billion was collected by the U.S. Attorneys’ offices in individually and jointly handled civil actions.
The $13.16 billion collected nationwide by the U.S. Attorneys’ offices for FY 2012 nearly matches the $13.18 billion collected in FY 2010 and FY 2011 combined.