Justice Department Collects More Than $23 Billion in Civil and Criminal Cases in Fiscal Year 2015
Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch announced today that the Justice Department collected $23.1 billion in civil and criminal actions in the fiscal year (FY) ending Sept. 30, 2015. Collections in FY 2015 represent more than seven and a half times the approximately $2.93 billion of the Justice Department’s combined appropriations for the 94 U.S. Attorneys’ offices and the main litigating divisions in that same period.
“The Department of Justice is committed to upholding the rule of law, safeguarding taxpayer resources and protecting the American people from exploitation and abuse,” said Attorney General Lynch. “The collections we are announcing today demonstrate not only the strength of that commitment, but also the significant return on public investment that our actions deliver. I want to thank the prosecutors and trial attorneys who made this achievement possible, and to reiterate our dedication to this ongoing work.”
The largest civil collections were from affirmative civil enforcement cases, in which the United States recovered government money lost to fraud or other misconduct or collected fines imposed on individuals and/or corporations for violations of federal financial, health, safety, civil rights and environmental laws. In addition, civil debts were collected on behalf of several federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, Internal Revenue Service, Small Business Administration and Department of Education.
The total includes all monies collected as a result of Justice Department-led enforcement actions and negotiated civil settlements. It includes more than $16.2 billion in payments made directly to the Justice Department and more than $6.8 billion in indirect payments made to other federal agencies, states and other designated recipients.
In measuring collections recovered in FY 2015, this figure necessarily includes some cases that were resolved in previous years but the proceeds of which were collected in FY 2015.
Among the top 20 debt collections, the largest came from financial institutions whose risky practices led up to the 2008 financial crisis and collapse of the U.S. housing market, including $8.2 billion of the settlement in August 2014 with Bank of America Corporation, which included $5 billion in penalties for claims under the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act (FIRREA) – the largest FIRREA penalty ever – and $687 million from the February 2015 settlement with McGraw Hill Financial Inc. and Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC.
The department continued to make polluters pay to safeguard the environment and the taxpayer, collecting $1.8 billion of the total $5.1 billion settlement of the Tronox Inc. bankruptcy in January 2015, the majority of which is being used for cleanups of Kerr-McGee sites, including on tribal lands and in low-income communities across the United States. From the November 2014 settlement with Hyundai and Kia, the automakers paid $93.6 million to the United States, of a $100 million civil penalty owed to the United States and the California Air Resources Board, to resolve violations concerning the testing and certification of vehicles sold in America.
As in previous years, recoveries for health care fraud were among the largest, including $807 million from DaVita Healthcare Partners to settle two False Claims Act cases which involved kickback schemes and fraudulent billing of the federal government.
Growing out of the international scheme to manipulate the London Interbank Offer Rate (LIBOR), the department obtained resolutions from several banks. Notably, Deutsche Bank entered into a deferred prosecution agreement in which it admitted its role in fraud and price-fixing conspiracies by rigging Yen LIBOR contributions with other banks and paid $625 million in penalties, in addition to regulatory penalties and disgorgements imposed by other agencies. A Deutsche Bank subsidiary in the United Kingdom also pleaded guilty for its role in the rate manipulation.
Additionally, in March, Commerzbank AG, agreed to pay a $79 million fine to the department, in addition to a $563 million forfeiture, as part of a global settlement of charges for violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and the Bank Secrecy Act. For six years Commerzbank knowingly and willfully moved approximately $263 million through the U.S. financial system on behalf of sanctioned entities in Iran and Sudan.
The Swiss Bank Program yielded more than $350 million in penalties from dozens of Swiss banks that reached non-prosecution agreements with the department in FY 2015.
The department collected hundreds of millions of dollars in criminal fines and penalties from companies involved in conspiracies to subvert competitive markets. Over the last year, the department collected fines greater than $10 million from nine companies involved in price-fixing conspiracies, including more than $200 million from auto parts suppliers and over $100 million from ocean freight companies. The department has also brought civil suits to stop anticompetitive behavior and collected civil penalties and disgorgement that deprived companies of the proceeds of illegal pre-merger coordination.