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Government Enforcement Actions

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May 22, 2020

The University of San Francisco has agreed to pay $2.5 million to resolve allegations of knowingly presenting false and fraudulent claims in order to obtain federal grants under the AmeriCorps State and National Program to support its San Francisco Teacher Residency Program, which supplements tuition and living expenses for teacher apprentices working within the local school district.  The government’s investigation, triggered by a whistleblower’s qui tam complaint, revealed that over 1,500 timesheets had been falsified and 61 awards had been falsely certified between 2014-2016, netting the university’s program and students over $1.7 million in grants.  USAO CDCA

May 19, 2020

The country’s largest subprime auto financing company, Santander Consumer USA Inc, has agreed to pay over $550 million to resolve allegations of violating consumer protection laws by knowingly placing consumers in auto loans that the company expected would default at a rate of over 70%.  Under the settlement, affected consumers in 34 states who defaulted on loans between 2010 and 2019 will receive restitution.  Additionally, Santander has agreed to various relief efforts, including transferring titles and waiving balances for consumers who defaulted on loans and had not had their cars repossessed yet, waiving balances or debt still owed even on cars already repossessed, and helping to repair consumer credit scores.  CA AG; NY AG; VA AG

May 7, 2020

Seattle Pain Center, Northwest Analytics, and owner/physician Dr. Frank Danger Li have agreed to pay $2.85 million to settle allegations of defrauding Washington’s Medicaid program.  An investigation revealed that between 2013 and 2015, Li had instituted a policy required nearly every patient treated at Seattle Pain Center to be administered the full urine drug panel at each visit even if they were not medically necessary.  The drug tests were then sent to Li’s exclusively-owned laboratory to be analyzed.  Additionally, the investigation revealed that between 2007 and 2016, Li wrote an excessive amount of prescriptions for opioids, and at least 60 of his patients died due to opioid-related causes during this period.  AG WA; USAO WDWA

May 6, 2020

The United States has obtained a settlement of $49 million in the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal, in which high-level officials of 1MDB and their associates allegedly robbed the people of Malaysia by misappropriating over $4.5 billion in public funds, which they laundered through financial institutions based in the United States and other countries and squandered on expensive properties and possessions.  With the conclusion of the case against Emirati businessman Khadem al-Buraisi, the United States has recovered over $1.1 billion in assets arising from the 1MDB scandal, representing the largest civil forfeiture by the DOJ and the largest recovery to date under the agency’s Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative.  DOJ; USAO CDCA

May 4, 2020

Two New York construction companies and their associates have agreed to pay $4.5 million to resolve allegations of defrauding the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and exploiting federal contracting opportunities reserved for veteran-owned small businesses and small businesses located in historically underutilized business zones (HUBZones).  Northland Associates, Inc., its president James Tyler, The Diverse Construction Group, and bond agent Rose & Kiernan Inc. allegedly failed to disclose and took steps to conceal the extent to which Diverse, which is 51% vetern-owned and 49% owned by senior Northland officials, took direction from Northland.  The government’s investigation was triggered by whistleblower lawsuits; the whistleblowers in this case will receive $1 million of settlement proceeds.  USAO SDNY

May 4, 2020

The SEC has granted a nearly $2 million award to a whistleblower whose early tip allowed the agency to freeze assets associated with fraudulent conduct, prevent the dissipation of investor funds and allow investors to recover most of their money.  The whistleblower’s tip also ultimately led to a successful enforcement action.  SEC

May 1, 2020

Milwaukee-based Center for Pain Management, S.C. and its owner, Nosheen Hasan, will pay at least $1.35 million to resolve claims that they received unlawful kickbacks in exchange for ordering medically unnecessary tests from a urine drug testing laboratory, Midwest Laboratory Sales & Consulting, LLC, in violation of the False Claims Act.  The investigation was initiated by a whistleblower, who will receive a share of the settlement.  USAO ED WI

April 30, 2020

Entities of Israeli banking conglomerate Bank Hapoalim have pleaded guilty and entered into civil settlements for their role in a money laundering scheme for bribes made to soccer officials with Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) and others in exchange for preferences including in the award of soccer match broadcasting rights.  As part of three-year non-prosecution agreement, the bank will forfeit $20.73 million, pay a fine of $9.33 million, and undertake specified remedial and compliance efforts. The bank simultaneously entered into a separate settlement regarding tax evasion.  DOJ; USAO EDNY

April 30, 2020

Israel-based Bank Hapoalim, together with its Swiss and other subsidiaries, will pay nearly $875 million and plead guilty to charges that it conspired with U.S. taxpayers and others to conceal $7.6 billion in thousands of Swiss and Israeli bank accounts from the Internal Revenue Service and other U.S. government entities, including New York State.  As part of its plea, the bank admitted that it assisted U.S. customers in setting up secret accounts, sheltering assets and income, and evading taxes.  The total payment by bank entities consists of $216.8 million in restitution to the IRS, $160.3 million in forfeiture, federal penalties of $239.8 million, $37.4 million in civil monetary penalties to the Federal Reserve System, and $220 million in penalties to the New York State Department of Financial Services.   As part of a deferred prosecution agreement, the bank will cooperate with ongoing investigations and disclose information regarding U.S.-related accounts. The bank simultaneously entered into a separate settlement agreement regarding money laundering with respect to the FIFA bribery investigation. DOJ; USAO SDNY; NY.
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