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Government Enforcement Actions

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December 20, 2022

Futures commission merchant CHS Hedging LLC will pay civil penalty of $6.5 million to resolve claims that it failed to implement an adequate AML program and failed to implement risk-based limits concerning trading in an account controlled by one of its customers that owned and controlled a ranching company and other related businesses.  The customer engaged in speculative trading that was inconsistent with its financial resources and hedging needs, and, over the course of four years, made net margin payments of more than $147 million to CHS Hedging.  The government alleged that the company did not adequately investigate the source of the customer’s funds or report the transactions as suspicious.  CFTC

December 20, 2022

Wells Fargo will pay a $1.7 billion penalty, and more than $2 billion in consumer restitution, following findings by the CFPB that the bank engaged in unlawful conduct including the imposition of improper fees and interest charges on auto and mortgage loans, misapplication of payments on such loans, and the imposition of unlawful surprise overdraft fees.  Wells Fargo’s failures in its servicing of auto loans resulted in the wrongful repossession of borrowers’ vehicles, and its improper denial of mortgage modifications led to some customers losing their homes to wrongful foreclosures.  According to the CFPB, the bank knew about problems in its account management and servicing for years before it took steps to correct them.  CFPB

December 20, 2022

BioTelemetry Inc. and its subsidiary CardioNet LLC, which provide cardiac monitoring services (including Holter and mobile cardiovascular telemetry (MCT) tests), will pay $44.875 million to resolve claims that they submitted false claims to federal healthcare programs for cardiac monitoring services that were improperly performed overseas and by unqualified technicians.  CardioNet used an India-based contractor to perform diagnostic and analysis services of heart monitoring data, and while it had a formal policy of sending such data for federal healthcare beneficiaries to a U.S.-based independent diagnostic testing facility for review and analysis, in fact, substantial amounts of such data was sent to its Indian contractor.  The government further alleged that most of the offshore technicians tasked with reviewing ECG Data for federal healthcare program beneficiaries did not have the basic qualifications to perform the tests in question. The government’s investigation was initiated by a qui tam action filed by former CardioNet employees Christopher Strasinski and Philip Leone, who will share a whistleblower award of approximately $8.3 millionDOJ; USAO ED PA

December 20, 2022

Following his conviction on charges related to his direction of a Ponzi scheme and the fraudulent sale of purported N95 masks during the pandemic, Christopher Parris was sentenced to 20.3 years in prison.  In the Ponzi scheme, which collapsed in 2018, Parris and co-conspirators – including Perry Santillo, obtained at least $115.5 million from approximately 1,000 investors, with claims that they were investing in a diversified investment portfolio when, in fact, very little investor money was deployed in productive investments.  Parris also pleaded guilty to charges that he defrauded the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs and others between February and April, 2020, by falsely representing that he was able to obtain brand-name N95 masks directly from authorized sources in the United States, when in fact, he had no ready access to such masks or other PPE.  Parris obtained upfront payments totaling approximately $7.4 million from at least eight clients, knowing that he had no access to or ability to obtain or deliver the PPE.  DOJ; USAO WD NY

December 19, 2022

Posted  12/19/22
Honeywell International Inc. and related entities will pay the U.S. government a total of more than $160 million before offsets – $81 million to resolve SEC claims, and $79 million as a criminal penalty – to settle charges arising out of bribery schemes that took place in Brazil and Algeria. Honeywell entered into a deferred prosecution agreement admitting that a subsidiary offered approximately $4 million as a...

December 19, 2022

A company outsider who submitted multiple anonymous tips to the SEC and the target company, which initiated an internal investigation based on the information, received a whistleblower award of $37 million.  The company reported the whistleblower’s information to the Commission, which then opened its own investigation.  Claimant submitted an additional tip to the Commission within 120 days that included the email that Claimant had sent to the company.  Claimant’s award was based on amounts recovered by the Commission and amounts recovered in a related action.  SEC

December 16, 2022

Youth rehabilitation center Pathway, Inc. and Pathway of Baldwin County, LLC, have agreed to pay nearly $3.5 million to settle claims of billing the Alabama Medicaid program for services that were not actually provided.  The claims that Pathway was billing for basic living skills services that were not actually provided were raised by whistleblower Richard Sheppard in a 2017 lawsuit.  USAO SDAL

December 15, 2022

A physician and his Connecticut-based urgent care practices have agreed to pay over $4.2 million to settle allegations of submitting false claims to Medicare and the Connecticut Medicaid program.  Jasdeep Sidana—the owner and CEO of Docs Medical Group, Inc., Docs Medical Inc., Docs Urgent Care LLP, Lung Docs of CT, P.C., Epic Family Physicians, LLP, and Continuum Medical Group, LLC (collectively, DOCS)—allegedly billed for immunotherapy services, including allergy testing and treatment, that were not medically necessary and not directly supervised by a physician.  Additionally, the defendants allegedly billed for COVID test administration using codes for more complex evaluation and management (“E&M”) services.  USAO CT

December 15, 2022

Florida-based Ocenture LLC and its subsidiary, Carelumina LLC, have agreed to pay $3 million to settle allegations of submitting claims to Medicare that were tainted by illegal kickbacks.  Two marketers approached by Ocenture to participate in the kickback scheme, Christopher Improta and Peter Brandt, filed a qui tam suit against Ocenture which alleged the company provided kickbacks to physicians to have them falsely attest that genetic tests Ocenture solicited directly from Medicare beneficiaries was medically necessary.  The whistleblowers also alleged that Ocenture arranged for laboratories to process those tests and pay it a portion of the laboratories’ Medicare reimbursements.  For instigating a successful enforcement action, Improta and Brandt will share a $570,000 award.  DOJ

December 14, 2022

In a False Claims Act case pursued on a non-intervened basis, Academy Mortgage Corporation agreed to pay $38.5 million to resolve allegations that it improperly originated and underwrote mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration.  The whistleblower, Gwen Thrower, who was an underwriter at Academy, alleged that the Academy had an inadequate underwriting process that led to false certifications of compliance with underwriting requirements and, ultimately, to the government having to pay insurance claims on loans improperly underwritten by Academy.  Thrower will receive a whistleblower award of $11.5 millionDOJ
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