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Tag >> DOJ
Jul 23
2010

False Claims Act litigation grows

Posted by Karen1 in fraudFalse Claims ActDOJ

Karen1

Under the False Claims Act (FCA), individuals who knowingly submit false claims for payment of government funds are liable for three times the government's damages, plus civil penalties. The FCA also allows an individual to bring a lawsuit on behalf of the United States when he or she has information that another party submitted claims to the government that were false or fraudulent - AKA whistleblower or qui tam lawsuits.
 
While the Act has been in effect since the Civil War, the government has recently ramped up its focus. The law itself has been amended three times in the past year, says Robert Blume, partner with Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP. For instance, the recently-passed Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act included changes to the FCA that affect industries outside healthcare. Case in point: previously, a whistleblower couldn't pursue publicly disclosed claims on behalf of the US unless he or she was a direct, independent source of the information. Now, the individual needs only independent knowledge that materially adds to previously disclosed allegations, the law firm of Ropes & Gray reports.

Last year, Congress passed the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act (FERA), which made it a violation for a recipient of Federal funds to knowingly keep an overpayment. 

Jul 13
2010

Google purchase raises antitrust specter

Posted by dbedell in online travelGoogleFTCExpediaDOJDealscompetitionantitrust

dbedell

Google’s agreement to buy ITA Software—which supplies technology to power online flight and ticket price searches—has raised concerns over the neutrality of search engines and how, or if, search platforms should be regulated to ensure that neutrality.

The deal—which has a $700 million price-tag—would enable Google to list travel and ticket prices in response to searches, potentially giving it a big toehold in the online travel market. The question, however, is how the addition of new businesses—such as travel booking and other services—that are tertiary to Google’s primary search function are affecting the independence and neutrality of the search engine platform, and at what point fair competition within those industries is affected.

Jul 02
2010

Corrupt practices enforcement ramps up

Posted by Karen1 in UKSecurities and Exchange CommissionFCPADOJ

Karen1
According to the Global Enforcement Report 2010, the US leads the rest of the world when it comes to enforcing what are known as outbound bribery cases. These are instances in which corporate execs based in a particular country try to bribe foreign officials in order to gain business. In fact, the US could claim credit for 76 percent of the 515 cases pursued between 1977 and 2010. The UK, which was next line, accounted for only 4 percent of total cases. The report was prepared by TRACE International, a non-profit association that provides anti-bribery compliance solutions.
 
Given these numbers, it may seem surprising for the US to actually be stepping up its efforts in this area. However, that's exactly what's happening. "The Department of Justice's appetite for pursuing these types of cases is only increasing," says Jeff Taylor, Ernst & Young's leader in fraud investigation and dispute services for the Americas. The DOJ is adding several prosecutors dedicated to pursuing violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, or FCPA, Taylor adds.
 
Similarly, the SEC created a new unit focused on FCPA cases, headed by Cheryl Scarboro. The primary mission of the unit is to be more proactive in enforcing the provisions of the FCPA, Scarboro said earlier this year.

Several goals are driving the intensified efforts behind FCPA enforcement, Taylor said. For starters, the agencies' past efforts have largely succeeded. That, in itself, is providing the motivation to build on the record.
 
Moreover, the efforts send a message that there is a proper way to do business, no matter where in the world a transaction may take place. That's not to say that business practices don't vary from one area to another - obviously, they do. However, the practice of, for instance, paying officials to perform an administrative task, can easily morph from a legitimate transaction to one that seeks special treatment for the company. "There are some exceptions, but they're fraught with peril," Taylor notes.
 
Perhaps most importantly, the US is trying to use its dominant role among world economies to foster an environment in which most companies and governments play by the rules. That way, those who do follow the rules aren't left at a disadvantage and those that would stray are more leery of getting caught by the FCPA or similar regulation in another country. In the long run, all benefit.
 
While progress is slow, momentum is heading in the right direction. One sign: in April, the United Kingdom passed the Bribery Act 2010. Among other goals, the Act will "help tackle the threat that bribery poses to economic progress and development around the world," according to this summary by the UK's Ministry of Justice.

May 24
2010

US companies get new ethics incentives

Posted by nicklord in O'Melveny & MyersDOJ

nicklord
 

At the end of April, the US Sentencing Commission submitted new amendments to the Federal Sentencing Commission, (the agency that sets out sentencing guidelines for Federal courts and reports to Congress) laying out ways for companies to reduce their liabilities when employees are involved in criminal behavior. In the past these liabilities have been determined by the amount of money involved and the use of a scoring system based on six factors, which determine the multiplier of the amount to be fined.

These factors are: corporate involvement in or tolerance of criminal activity; corporate history of misconduct; whether the misconduct violated a judicial order or injunction; whether the corporation directly or indirectly obstructed justice; the effectiveness of compliance and ethics programs in place at the time of the offense; and whether the corporation self-reported, cooperated, and has accepted responsibility.

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