DoJ collects record $24B in criminal, civil cases

The Department of Justice has recovered an unprecedented sum of money in civil and criminal cases this fiscal year, having collected billions in penalties from JPMorgan and Citgroup, Inc. for their role in the 2008 financial crisis.

DoJ collected a record $24.7 billion this year from civil and criminal cases — more than three times the $8 billion sum it received in FY 2013. The big bank penalties were the largest single source of the collections, according to a DoJ press release.

Attorney General Eric Holder also announced that whistleblower claims made under the False Claims Act contributed the most money to the agency’s civil collections.

“Every day, the Justice Department’s federal prosecutors and trial attorneys work hard to protect our citizens, to safeguard precious taxpayer resources, and to provide a valuable return on investment to the American people,” Holder said in a statement. “Their diligent efforts are enabling us to achieve justice and recoup losses in virtually every sector of the U.S. economy. And it shows the fruits of the Justice Department’s tireless work in enforcing federal laws; in protecting the American people from violent crime, national security threats, discrimination, exploitation, and abuse; and in holding financial institutions accountable for their roles in causing the 2008 financial crisis.”

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When individuals or corporations commit fraud against the federal government, DoJ recovers the money through the False Claims Act. To better detect instances of fraud, however, the law strongly encourages would-be whistleblowers to come to DoJ with evidence of the company overcharging the government.

When whistleblowers file a London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) — a benchmark rate that banks use when offering each other short-term loans.

An investigation into tire manufacturer Bridgestone Corp. also yielded hundreds of millions of dollars. The Tokyo-based company pleaded guilty to playing a role in conspiring to fix the price of anti-vibration rubber parts used in the production of cars.

Multi-million dollar fines paid by polluters also contributed to this year’s record collection. Those settlements include a case against Titanium Metals Corporation (TIMET), which paid $14 million in civil penalties under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) for improperly disposing of chemicals at one of its facilities in Henderson, Nevada.

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