Remarks as prepared for delivery
Good morning. I am pleased to announce that President Trump signed an Executive Order establishing a new Task Force on Market Integrity and Consumer Fraud. The Task Force will focus on combating fraud against consumers – particularly the elderly, service members, and veterans – and corporate fraud that victimizes the general public and the government.
I am joined this morning by leaders of some of the agencies that work with the Department of Justice to protect American consumers and taxpayers: Acting Director Mick Mulvaney of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; Chairman Jay Clayton of the Securities and Exchange Commission; and Chairman Joe Simons of the Federal Trade Commission. Acting Associate Attorney General Jesse Panuccio, one of the key members of the task force, is also here today and will be available to take questions.
Fraud committed by companies and their employees has a devastating impact on American citizens in the financial markets, the health care sector, and elsewhere.
Two weeks ago, the Attorney General and the Secretary of Health and Human Services announced the prosecution of 601 defendants in our nation’s largest coordinated health care fraud enforcement action. The fraud schemes allegedly involved more than $2 billion in false billings. 162 of the defendants, including 76 doctors, were charged for illegally distributing opioids and other dangerous narcotics.
Health care fraud cheats taxpayers and victimizes vulnerable citizens. We will do everything we can to root it out and ensure that wrongdoers are punished appropriately.
In another example from last month, the Department announced Operation Wire Wire, a coordinated effort that also included the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of the Treasury, and the Postal Inspection Service. It resulted in 74 arrests in the United States and overseas. The operation targeted cyber-enabled financial fraud that caused companies, real estate purchasers, the elderly, and others to transmit money and sensitive personal information on the basis of fraudulent representations by the perpetrators.
The Department also uses affirmative civil enforcement authority to recover fraud proceeds and impose penalties. Last year, we obtained more than $3.7 billion in settlements and judgments from civil cases involving fraud against the government. Total recoveries since 1986 amount to more than $56 billion. We have paid almost $6.6 billion to whistleblowers who came forward to report fraud and assist our investigations.
The new Task Force on Market Integrity and Consumer Fraud will allow us to do even more.
The President’s order directs the Task Force to invite participation from our law enforcement partners at many departments and agencies. By working together, we can achieve more effective and efficient outcomes. Drawing on our pooled resources, including subject-matter expertise, data repositories, and analysts and investigators, we can identify and stop fraud on a wider scale than any one agency acting alone.
In May, the Department of Justice announced a new policy to encourage cooperation internally and with other enforcement agencies when imposing multiple penalties for the same corporate misconduct. The goal is to discourage “piling on,” and instead coordinate with local, state, federal, and foreign authorities to achieve a joint result that imposes appropriate punishment without prolonging investigations and unnecessarily spending investigative resources.
For responsible companies that choose to cooperate in our investigations, voluntarily report misconduct, and remediate the harm, we will work together with other agencies to ensure an appropriate and just result.
The Task Force will bring together U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and our Department’s other components, with essential help from other enforcement agencies, to fight fraud affecting American citizens. We will pursue our mission with determination, fairness, and the coordinated resources of all our law enforcement partners.
We expect to focus on cases involving fraud against the government, the financial markets, and consumers; procurement and grant fraud; securities and commodities fraud; digital currency fraud; money laundering; health care fraud; tax fraud; and other financial crimes.
One of our first goals will be to survey our partner agencies to identify areas of vulnerability and ensure that we devote appropriate resources to address them.
Next, I want to introduce Mick Mulvaney, Acting Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.