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October 22, 2020

Guild Mortgage Company, based in San Diego, has agreed to pay $25 million to resolve whistleblower-brought allegations of knowingly breaching material program requirements in connection with mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).  As a participant of the FHA’s mortgage insurance program, Guild had the authority to originate and underwrite mortgages without government review for compliance with program rules. According to the former head of quality control, Kevin Dougherty, Guild failed to comply with those rules when it knowingly approved ineligible loans that later defaulted.  Dougherty will receive a relator’s share of nearly $5 million.  USAO SDCA

October 22, 2020

The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. and its Malaysian subsidiary, Goldman Sachs (Malaysia) Sdn. Bhd. (GS Malaysia) have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with DOJ, and agreed to pay $2.9 billion as part of a coordinated resolution with authorities in the U.S., U.K., and Singapore.  Between 2009 and 2014, senior employees at the global financial institution directly and indirectly paid over $1.6 billion in bribes to government officials in Malaysia and Abu Dhabi, earning $606 million in revenue and an increased presence in Southeast Asia as a result.  Goldman’s managing director, Tim Leissner, was separately charged for his role last DecemberDOJ; USAO EDNY; SEC

October 22, 2020

The SEC has awarded a record-breaking $114 million to a whistleblower whose tip and substantial, ongoing assistance helped lead to successful enforcement actions by the SEC and another agency.  This is the highest award in the history of the SEC whistleblower program, bypassing the next highest award, issued in June 2020, by over $60 million.  SEC

October 22, 2020

The former president of Hightower Capital Group (HCG) has been sentenced to nearly 16 years in prison and ordered to pay $9.6 million in restitution for running a Ponzi scheme that harmed investors, mostly family and friends, from 2013 to 2018.  Though barred from working as a broker in 2015, William Hightower managed to convince the investors to trust him with their retirement funds and life savings, which he then used to pay other investors and fund a lavish lifestyle for himself.  USAO SDTX

October 22, 2020

Jerry Taylor of North Carolina has been sentenced to five years in prison and ordered to pay more than $6.1 million in restitution for his role in a $9.4 million fraud scheme targeting North Carolina’s Medicaid program.  Along with his brother Tony and co-conspirators in Ohio and New York, Taylor submitted claims for behavioral health services benefiting local at-risk youth that were purportedly performed at companies he owned and operated with his brother, but that were in reality not actually performed or misrepresented in the claims.  In addition to defrauding Medicaid, Taylor also evaded taxes by failing to report more than $1.6 million in reimbursements in 2016 and 2017.  For those charges, Taylor will pay over $346,000 to the IRS.  USAO WDNC

October 19, 2020

Investment adviser representative Paul Horton Smith, Sr. of eGate, LLC and his companies, Northstar Communications, LLC and Planning Services, Inc., have been ordered to pay over $4 million in disgorgement and $383,000 in prejudgment interest for defrauding at least 35 investors of more than $5.6 million.  According to the SEC, Horton and his companies targeted retirees and pre-retirees in Southern California, promising them guaranteed interest payments but paying the “interest” with new investor funds.  SEC

October 15, 2020

Robert F. Smith, who formed and beneficially owned Belize entity the Excelsior Trust and Nevis entity Flash Holdings, has entered into a non-prosecution agreement, agreeing to pay $139 million, to resolve claims that between 2000 and 2015 he unlawfully used the offshore entities and their offshore bank accounts to conceal income earned by him on private equity investments and evade millions in taxes.  Using the offshore trust accounts, Smith willfully did not report to the IRS over $200 million of partnership income.  In addition, he unlawfully failed to report his ownership of foreign bank accounts in BVI and Switzerland.  The $139 million settlement consists of $56 million in taxes and penalties on unreported income and $82 million in penalties stemming from his failure to report his offshore bank accounts.  In addition, Smith agreed to abandon a $182 million refund claim based on alleged charitable contributions in 2018 and 2019.  DOJ; USAO ND Cal

October 15, 2020

The SEC will pay an unidentified whistleblower $800,000.  According to the SEC, the whistleblower provided information and detailed analysis that caused the agency to open an investigation that led to two successful SEC enforcement actions.  SEC

October 14, 2020

Michael Allen Worley of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was sentenced to 12 years in prison following his plea of guilty on charges including bank fraud.  Worley admitted that between 2014 and 2018 he fraudulently obtained more than $40 million in loans and investments from banks and private equity firms for himself and his businesses.  Worley’s fraud included false statements that inflated his assets, understated and omitted his liabilities, misrepresented his income, and misrepresented the intended use of loan proceeds. Worley was also ordered to pay $15.75 million in restitution to his victims.  USAO MD LA

October 14, 2020

Brazilian investment company J&F Investimentos S.A. and is meat producer subsidiary, JBS S.A., along with their principles Joesley Batista and Wesley Batista have entered into a settlement agreement with the SEC and DOJ, agreeing to pay nearly $283 million in fines and disgorgement and plead guilty to resolve charges under the FCPA arising from a scheme to bribe government officials in Brazil in order to obtain financing and other benefits for the companies.  Defendants paid approximately $180 million in bribes to obtain hundreds of millions of dollars in financing from Brazilian state-owned and state-controlled banks BNDES and Caixa, as well as to facilitate JBS’s acquisition of U.S. company Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation.  The bribes were allegedly paid from U.S. assets, including JBS operating accounts that also contained Pilgrim’s funds.  The SEC further charged that the Batistas, who exerted significant control over Pilgrim’s, caused it have an inadequate system of internal controls and accurate books and records.  The criminal fine of $256 million will be discounted up to 50% to credit defendants for a settlement with Brazilian authorities valued at $1.9 billion; the SEC agreement provides for a payment of $27 million in disgorgement and interest. Defendants also agreed to cooperate any ongoing or further investigations and implement an enhanced compliance program. DOJ; SEC; USAO EDNY
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