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DOJ Reaps Over $23B|in Penalties In FY2015

(CN) - The U.S. Justice Department collected $23.1 billion in civil and criminal action during the fiscal year that ended on Sept. 30, the agency announced Thursday.

The amount represents more than seven and a half times the $2.93 billion in appropriations the Justice Department received to run 94 U.S. Attorney's officers and the its main litigating divisions in the same period, the agency said.

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. These included $8.2 billion garnered from an August 2014 settlement with Bank of America. The agreement included $5 billion in penalties for claims under the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act - the largest penalty ever levied under the Act.

Another significant item was the $687 million the Justice Department received as part of a February 2015 settlement with McGraw Hill Financial Inc. and Standard & Poor's Financial Services.

The largest civil collections fell into two broad categories -- cases in which the agency recovered government money lost to fraud or other misconduct and collected fines imposed for violations of federal financial, health, safety, civil rights and environmental laws.

In addition, the agency said, it also collected civil debts owed to 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.

Of the total collection, $16.2 billion was paid directly to the Justice Department while $6.8 billion went to other federal agencies, to states and to other designated recipients.

FY 2015 also say the agency continuing to make polluters pay for environmental degradation.

Its biggest collection in this regard was $1.8 billion of a total $5.1 billion settlement of the Tronox Inc. bankruptcy in January 2015, the majority of which is now paying the cleanups of several Kerr-McGee sites, including those located on tribal lands and in low-income communities.

Also received this fiscal year was $93,6 million from a November 2014 settlement with Hyundai and Kia to resolve violations concerning the testing and certification of vehicles sold in America.

Other notable collections during the last fiscal year were the $807 million garnered from DaVita Healthcare Partners to settle two False Claims Act cases which involved kickback schemes and fraudulent billing of the federal government; $625 million paid by several banks to settle claims they engaged in an international conspiracy to manipulate the London Interbank Offer Rate.

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.

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